Why local airport referendum matters for all of France

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While all of Europe, including France, has been focussed on the shock result of the Brexit vote, a more local referendum campaign has been taking place in western France. On Sunday June 26th nearly a million voters in the Loire-Atlantique département or county were asked for their verdict on plans for a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes. The referendum itself, whose outcome the government says it will respect and which has been criticised for its many shortcomings, was won by suporters of the scheme. But Mediapart's environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard argues that the issues at stake go beyond the local airport project: and that they affect everyone in France and beyond.

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On Sunday June 26th the voters of the Loire-Atlantique département or county in west France – where some 967,500 people are on the electoral roll – were asked to say yes or no to plans for a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. It was the first time in France that citizens have been able to vote in this way on an infrastructure project that affects the environment, plans that have already been declared a public utility by the state. The outcome was a victory for backers of the scheme, with 55.17 % of people who voted supporting the building of the new airport.