Government sends mixed messages over bloody battle for new airport

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Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has sought to calm the major controversy surrounding plans for a new airport near his home city of Nantes by calling for “dialogue”. But at the same time the forces of law and order led a major operation against protesters at the planned airport site, leaving up to 100 people injured. Jade Lindgaard charts the latest developments in a bitter saga that is proving damaging both to the government's relations with its green allies and its reputation on environment issues.

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Is the government in the process of opening the door to dialogue over the highly-controversial plan for a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in western France? For the first time it has given signs of doing so, after a weekend of bloody clashes between gendarmes and protesters occupying the proposed site of the airport which left 100 people injured. A statement from the office of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault – who when he was Mayor of Nantes strongly backed the development - announced that a “dialogue committee” will meet this week “to outline the project and to hear all the parties involved”.