French antipesticide mayor loses justice

The ecologist mayor of a small village in France lost Tuesday in court for having banned, like a score of other local elected officials, the use of pesticides on part of his commune.
The antipesticide decree of Daniel Cueff, the mayor of Langouët (north-west), a village of some 600 inhabitants, was suspended by the administrative court of Rennes, according to a copy of this decision consulted by AFP.

The judge invokes “the incompetence of the mayor of Langouët to regulate the use of plant protection products on the territory of his commune”.

Daniel Cueff, an ecologist without a political label, had issued a decree on 18 May prohibiting the use of plant protection products “at a distance of less than 150 meters from any cadastral parcel including a building used for residential or professional purposes”.

This decision is not isolated in France, where about twenty mayors have taken so far decrees limiting or prohibiting pesticides in their municipality.

But the prefecture had requested the suspension of this interim order, on the grounds that a mayor is not competent to take decisions on the use of phytosanitary products, including in the name of the precautionary principle, a power reserved for the ‘State.

Cueff told AFP he intended to appeal the decision and called on the other rural mayors to make a similar decree to his.

“Move the lines”

Béatrice de François, mayor of Parempuyre, in the Bordeaux region, has also issued a decree in recent days “formally” prohibiting plant protection products “within 100 meters of any dwelling or public space”.

Like Daniel Cueff and Béatrice de François, twenty other local elected officials banned the use of pesticides on part of their municipality.

“To move the lines, to protect the people, you may have to disobey a little,” said Cueff, claiming he received “thousands of messages of support.” “Many mayors are challenged by their inhabitants. We will have to find a solution, “he added.

“What is the power of a mayor? Can a mayor ignore the health of its inhabitants? “, Cueff pleaded at the hearing on August 22, saying he had not banned pesticides, but introduced” a distance of pesticides on a plot that remains cultivable with less dangerous products.

Hundreds of people had come to support the mayor in court.

Emmanuel Macron said Friday to support “in his intentions” the mayor. “There are laws, she (the prefect) must enforce them, so I will always be behind the prefects who enforce the laws,” first pleaded Mr. Macron, saying that “the solution is not to make an order that is not in accordance with the law “but rather” to mobilize to change the law “.

In this sense, the Head of State wished “to go towards a framing of the areas of application of pesticides”, by pointing “the consequences on the public health”.

Minister of Environmental Transition Élisabeth Borne announced Tuesday that a regulatory project is under consideration to establish a “minimum zone between land application and housing”.

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