Behind the protests: Vinci's lucrative deal to build the controversial Great West Airport

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The plan to build the so-called Great West Airport in the unique hedgerow farmland of France’s lower Loire Valley has provoked one of the biggest environmental protests seen in the country for years. The row also has a strong political dimension with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault being a big supporter of the plan ever since he was mayor of Nantes, while the government's Green allies are deeply opposed. But there is also another, less visible, aspect to the project - the favourable contract won by giant French construction group Vinci to build and run the airport. Jade Lindgaard reports.

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Feelings against the plan to build a brand-new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, near Nantes, run so high that protests there have at times turned into pitched battles. Just last week a court ruled that protestors can be evicted from their tree-top houses and makeshift camps on the planned site. But there is another story besides the environmental issues sparking the protests: the curiously favourable contract granted to Vinci, the giant French construction group which was chosen to run the airport concession.