French Senate calls for more ambitious policy to curb urban sprawl –


As French senators prepare to examine the country’s climate and resilience bill, members of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday (May 12) released a report calling for a more ambitious policy to achieve a net target. zero on the artificialization of land. EURACTIV France reports.

The committee report suggests ways to curb urban sprawl in France, noting that urban areas now cover “22% of the territory, against 7% in 1936”.

When modified, land is artificial and becomes incapable of absorbing CO2. “Between 5 and 9.5% of French territory is now artificial”, notes the report, stressing that “nearly 28% of this area is due to infrastructure, 14% to economic activity and 42% to housing”.

The Citizen’s Convention for the Climate – a panel representing French citizens on climate issues responsible for formulating climate-related proposals – took up the issue and developed thirteen ideas to considerably limit the artificialization of soils in France.

As a result, the country’s National Assembly adopted two key proposals: halve the rate of land artificialization compared to the last ten years and achieve the goal of “zero net artificialization” by 2050.

According to the senators, these legislative proposals are added to an already large legislative arsenal, which includes local town planning schemes (PLU), territorial coherence schemes (SCoT) and ecological coherence schemes (SRCE), local authorities being among the major players. .

“Today, nearly 58% of SCoTs set a quantified goal of reducing space consumption by more than 50%,” said the senators.

However, the proposals in the climate bill are not satisfactory, senators warned. “It is more relevant and effective to set objectives at the level of the SCoTs and PLUs, in line with the distribution of decentralized powers, and at a level which allows the best dialogue before setting the objectives”, they added.

Urban forests: a solution to the European forestry problem?

A 100 square meter mini urban forest is large enough to plant 15 to 30 types of trees and recreate the ecosystem of a large-scale forest, according to Nicolas de Brabandère, founder of Belgian company Urban Forest. EURACTIV France reports.

European biodiversity

Even if the transformation of natural soils reflects the dynamic growth of the French economy and demography, it has a heavy impact on the environment: loss of biodiversity, reduction of carbon storage potential, inability of soils to properly absorb water. water, loss of agricultural land.

On this last point, the senators warned about the “capacity of the country to ensure food production” in the years to come.

This phenomenon was also observed on a European scale by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in an analysis of land occupation and use in 2019. the forested area has remained stable ”, said the EEA.

In his biodiversity strategy for 2030, the EU unveiled measures to protect ecosystems, including the creation of “protected areas” which would represent 30% of European territory.

An old battle

The fight against the artificialization of soils is nothing new in France.

In July 2018, the country’s Ministry of Ecological Transition made it a major objective of its biodiversity plan, specifying that “urban planning and commercial development policies will be reviewed in order to curb the increase in artificial surfaces (buildings, infrastructure). transport, parking lots, land, etc.) and to promote urban planning with minimal space.

In their conclusions, the senators proposed different solutions to protect French natural soils. These included making the Brownfields Fund permanent, improving the use of public land establishments. They also proposed to extend the national plan “Action Cœur de Ville”, which aims to revitalize the town centers of 222 medium-sized towns.

The text of the new climate law will be presented to the Senate in June.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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