Spreading distances: rejection of the emergency appeal of anti-pesticide mayors

Another setback for anti-pesticides: the highest administrative court in the country, without having yet examined the file on the merits, on Friday rejected their request to urgently suspend the minimum spreading distances set in December by the government.

The judge of summary procedure (emergency procedure) of the Council of State estimated that “the condition of urgency” to rule on the texts published on December 27 by the government was not fulfilled. The procedure will therefore continue on the merits, with a decision expected “in the coming months” according to the Council.

The disputed decree and decree, published after several months of controversy, confirmed the minimum distances from housing for the use of pesticides, which had been put out for public consultation in the fall: five meters for so-called low crops such as vegetables and cereals and ten meters for tall crops, fruit or vines. Distance increased to 20 meters for the “most dangerous” products, which represent around 0.3% of the active substances used.

Led by the emblematic mayor of Langouët (Ille-et-Vilaine) Daniel Cueff, who had taken an anti-pesticide decree in May 2019 (canceled by the administrative court) for the territory of his commune, the collective of anti-pesticide mayors , which has about 120 city councilors, had challenged these decisions urgently.

But the judge in urgent proceedings rejected the concept of urgency, relying in particular on the fact that the complainants “are content to criticize very generally the distances of 5, 10 and 20 meters and the derogations which can be made, by indicating that such distances cannot seriously be regarded as satisfying the obligation to protect local residents “, even though these distances correspond to those recommended by the National Health Security Agency (ANSES).

– “Right to poisoning” –

It also notes that “the other Member States of the European Union do not, to date, impose greater general safety distances” than those used in France.

The government’s decision was the subject of a showdown between large agricultural unions and environmental NGOs. The former denounced a form of “agro-bashing”, the latter castigated the weight of “agricultural lobbies and the phytosanitary industry”.

It had also intervened in a context of sling of mayors, then of local communities, which had multiplied the decrees prohibiting or limiting the use of pesticides. Arrested systematically attacked by state services and most of them charged with administrative justice.

“I am very disappointed but losing on the emergency is less serious than losing on the merits,” reacted to AFP Me Corinne Lepage, former Minister of the Environment and lawyer for the applicants. “But it’s still strange, a country that does not find it urgent to limit the right to poisoning,” she continued.

Deploring this “dramatic” rejection, the collective of mayors for its part “demanded that the measures held by ANSES (via air agencies) on the presence of dangerous pesticides in the air around the treated fields be made public immediately. How long will it take for local residents to take priority over all other considerations? “

Several associations, including France Nature Environnement, Générations Futures, Solidaires or UFC Que Choisir, have for their part deemed “all the more essential” after this decision the appeal on the merits against the spreading areas they must file February 25.

The Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition did not wish to react, while the union of phytosanitary industries UIPP did not immediately respond to requests from AFP.

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