Justice orders the state to take new measures

Seaweed on the beach at Douarnenez in Brittany. (archives) – RAPHAEL BLOCH / SIPA

The administrative court of Rennes, seized by the association Eau et Rivières de Bretagne, ordered the prefect of Brittany to take, within four months, new regulatory measures to fight against green tides. “It’s a historic victory,” responded Alain Bonnnec, president of Eau et Rivières de Bretagne, quoted in a press release. “But what a waste of time! So many millions of euros of green algae plans invested in vain for lack of sufficient regulations! “

In a judgment handed down on Friday, the court considers that “strengthening of the actions implemented remains necessary in order to restore the quality of water in Brittany on a lasting basis” and “to prevent as much as possible the phenomenon of green tides”. Present at sea in its natural state, green algae proliferate in Breton bays, where they are nourished by contributions of nitrates spread by farmers in the fields and the surpluses of which are transported by coastal rivers.

Four months to take action

“The Prefect of Brittany himself admits, in defense, that despite positive results in terms of water quality, it remains degraded in certain territories”, points out the court, which recalls that in 2018, only the half of the watersheds had achieved the “good bay condition” objectives. The court therefore ordered the prefect to take measures to “control nitrogen fertilization and appropriate management of agricultural land” upstream from beaches where green algae proliferate. In addition, it also calls for the “precise definition of a mechanism for implementing binding regulatory measures” in the event of failure of the measures encouraged by the plan to combat green algae.

These measures must be taken within four months of its notification to the Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili. “We are now expecting the Prefect to take more restrictive and more protective measures for water resources,” said Alain Bonnec. The association Eau et Rivières de Bretagne, which launched a campaign against green tides in May (https://petitions.eau-et-rivieres.org/stop-marees-vertes), is organizing a demonstration on this theme this Saturday at 10:30 am in Lorient (Morbihan).

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