the Parliament dedicates the “sensory heritage” of the countryside

Whether their name is Marcel or Maurice, the roosters of France will be able to sing without fear of neighborhood conflicts … this is what the text aims to “protect the sensory heritage of the countryside” adopted definitively Thursday by Parliament, via a final unanimous Senate vote.

The Chamber of Territories voted by show of hands, without modifications, a UDI-Agir bill already adopted unanimously by the National Assembly, placed on the agenda at the request of the centrist group.

The text carried by the deputy Pierre Morel-A-L’Huissier, which introduces the concept of “sensory heritage” of the countryside into French law, is thus definitively adopted.

Ringing of bells, rooster or cicadas crowing, croaking of frogs, quacking of ducks, but also the smell of horse or stable manure: sounds and smells characterizing natural spaces, sometimes denounced as nuisances, are now included in the code of the environment. A consecration which allows them to be included in the common heritage of the nation.

The Secretary of State in charge of Rurality Joël Giraud welcomed “a good proposal for a law to defend rurality”, noting that “life in the countryside implies accepting some nuisances”.

For the rapporteur of the text in the Senate, Pierre-Antoine Levi, “the symbolism is strong”. And the text “can be a useful tool for local elected officials on a daily basis to support them in their educational and mediation efforts” and allow them to defuse disputes upstream.

If there are no official statistics on the number of neighborhood disturbances, and even less on their location in rural or urban areas, Mr. Levi reports “a feeling of growing demands” among local elected officials.

This is evidenced by the media coverage of certain cases, which sometimes make you smile, but are nonetheless time-consuming for the city councilors and sometimes end up in court.

And these disputes could increase further, “with the desire for the countryside” generated among urbanites by the confinement, as several senators have noted.

– An expected deterrent effect –

The rapporteur cites the astonishing example of holidaymakers who in 2018 in the Var had requested the use of insecticides to get rid of too noisy cicadas.

Olivier Paccaud (LR) reports a procedure in Pignols, in Puy-de-Dôme, against bee droppings.

The rooster Maurice has passed down to posterity after being in 2019 at the center of a legal dispute, launched by neighbors who complained about his morning cocorico. Justice finally allowed the rooster to continue crowing.

He died of illness the following year, his owner praising “an emblem, a symbol of rurality, a hero”.

The authors of the bill expect a dissuasive effect in matters of nuisance complaints. “Lawyers will be able to warn their clients, + Be careful, there is a protected sensory heritage, we risk being banished +”, declared Pierre Morel-A-L’Huissier, during the examination at the Assembly there a year.

The bill also provides for entrusting the regional services of the inventory of cultural heritage with a mission of study and qualification of “the cultural identity of the territories”.

Finally, the delivery of a government report on the abnormal neighborhood disturbance is planned.

Mr. Levi believes that this report “is likely to shed light on future debates” on a reform of civil liability “planned for several years, without having yet succeeded”.

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