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France scraps new airport project amid long-standing protests

Campaigners occupying the proposed site at Notre-Dames-des-Landes, outside Nantes, must now leave, France’s PM said.

The French government has decided against building an airport in western France, scrapping a project which has provoked years of occasionally violent protests.

France’s prime minister Edouard Philippe said protesters occupying the proposed site at Notre-Dames-des-Landes, outside Nantes, must now leave.

He said that the decision to abandon construction of the new facility was down to the volatile situation in the area and divisions among the local population.

Mr Philippe said anarchists opposed to the new airport must leave, and vowed to “put an end to this lawless zone”.

He ordered protesters living in a makeshift settlement to clear the roads they have been blocking, or face police action.

A top regional official has lashed out at the central government for its decision to abandon the project, saying it has “trampled on democracy”.

Activists celebrate victory (AP)

Philippe Grosvalet, president of the Loire-Atlantique department, said the government has also “ceded to disorder” in reference to anarchists living in the makeshift settlement.

The majority of citizens supported the airport project in a 2016 referendum.

Campaigners have so far refused the order to leave.

Hundreds of activists who call themselves ZADists, for Zone of Defence, said that there would be a victory celebration on February 10.

The group said it will clear the main road of obstacles, but will not leave by a spring deadline.

French security forces are being deployed to the region around Nantes.

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