French mayors defy government with local bans on pesticides and herbicides

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A growing number of French mayors have issued by-laws this year banning the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides in their communes. But these have been regularly overturned by local administrative tribunals which have ruled the measures to be illegal as only central government has the power to issue such prohibitions. Earlier this month, however, a tribunal upheld the by-laws issued by the mayors of two Paris suburbs, ruling that the government had failed in its responsibilities to protect public health. With nationwide municipal elections due next spring, the issue is fast developing into a political hot potato for President Emmanuel Macron who has insisted that the rebel mayors must abide by the law.

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The mayors of two Paris suburbs this month won a small but significant legal victory in an escalating battle against central government over the powers of local councils to issue by-laws banning or restricting the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides across their communes.