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Court rejects Barsac traveller camp plans

A Bordeaux court has overturned plans to set up a travellers' camp in the sweet wine district of Barsac.

Barsac: ‘vines directly affected’

The camp, which had been suggested by the mayor of Barsac, Philippe Meynard, in plans dating back to 2008, would have been located in the centre of the Barsac plateau, near the village of Toulenne.

It would have provided space for 40 caravans near vineyards including those of Chateau Liot, Doisy-Daene and Piada.

In its ruling, the Tribunal Administratif de Bordeaux said the local council had not followed correct procedures, and that the Tribunal believed the commune of Barsac was wrong in classifying the land as fit for construction because it would lead to erosion of the surrounding vineyards.

The lawyer representing the wine bodies, Clothilde Cazamajour, had recently won another reprieve for Bordeaux winemakers.

In October 2011 she successfully contested the plans of the local council in Cadillac to allow 48ha of AOC Bordeaux/Cotes de Bordeaux vines to be developed for housing.

According to reports, as in Cadillac the construction of the campsite would have directly affected two plots of AOC Barsac vines. It is not clear at this stage exactly which properties would have been affected.

Since the first announcement of the plans, the local winemaking body, ODG Sauternes-Barsac, worked with the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (CIVB), the regional Chamber of Agriculture and the Federation des Grands Vins de Bordeaux (FGVB) to contest it.

They argued the mayor had incorrectly classified the designated land as fit for building on, greatly undervaluing its viticultural potential.

Yann Le Goaster at the FGVB, who has been instrumental in setting up a Commission Terroir which tracks regional development plans, told Decanter.com, ‘We intend to systematically oppose any ill-thought out urbanisation which threatens viticultural land in the Gironde. It is not just part of our economy in Bordeaux, but our heritage and identity.’

The subject of travellers’ camps is a contentious one in France. Last August, a group of Roma travellers blocked the main bridge in Bordeaux, the Pont d’Aquitaine, in protest at mayor Alain Juppe’s evicting them from an illegal campsite. At the time, more than 40 illegal camps were closed across France, causing protests across Europe.

At present there are some 40 existing and proposed travellers’ campsites in the Gironde region, of which around 12 are in the Bordeaux area.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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