The deployment of fiber raises fears of a “massacre of hedges”

Would the deployment of optical fiber in Loire-Atlantique sometimes be incompatible with the environment? While operations are accelerating throughout the department for a total connection to very high speed by 2025, concern is mounting among Fransylva Loire-Atlantique. For several months, the union of private foresters has been warning, with supporting photos, of “the devastating and lasting damage to trees and hedgerows, refuges of biodiversity and amenities of our landscapes”.

Because to proceed with the installation of these numerous poles and thousands of kilometers of cables, it is first necessary to clean the vegetation all around and in particular to prune the hedges, to 50 cm in width and 1 m in height. Problem: the owners, to whom a letter is sent to inform them that they must carry out the work themselves (if not, the operator takes care of it), do not all know how to do it. Others would take advantage of it to gain a little space.

“Some cut the tops of trees, cut their hedges on the ground, massacre them, reports Jean-François de Ramecourt, president of Fransylva 44. They receive the letter, take fright and run so as not to have any problem. They realize later that it is an ecological disaster. Because the hedges are not just there to separate the plots. Essential for the proper functioning of biodiversity, they are home to birds, small animals, insects… “The first reservoir is the forests, but the hedges play a very important role”, continues Jean-François de Ramecourt. However, since 1950, 70% of them have disappeared from the French countryside and their number continues to decrease. A “Let’s plant hedges” program was launched last year by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Burying the cables, too expensive solution

Burying the cables, as is done in urban areas, would be the solution for all places where the branches risk damaging the network, believes Jean-François Ramecourt. Too expensive, answers Jean Charrier, the vice-president in charge of the file at the departmental council. According to the elected official, the air would indeed cost three times less than the underground cables, not to mention the collateral risks of the second option, for example about the water pipes. “However, there is a real subject, even if it is necessary to put it into perspective: there are no badly trimmed hedges everywhere”, continues the elected official, who has undertaken to ensure that the famous letters are sent as soon as possible. as soon as possible, so that the owners have time to find out and organize themselves. It also recalls that the town halls can, if they wish, classify certain hedges considered “remarkable”.

For Jean-François de Ramecourt, whose concerns are also shared in Vendée, the problem is likely to persist, or even worsen since beyond the preparatory work, the owners will then have to carry out regular maintenance of the hedges. “It will be necessary to prune twice a year, which still means risks, worries the spokesperson for Fransylva Loire-Atlantique. Not to mention the additional costs that this will generate for these residents…”

Some 14,000 km of linear must in total be installed in the department. If there are still delays in certain places, the county council again indicates that the deadlines will be met.

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