Protestors have taken their fight against the Terminal 2 extension of Nice Airport to the streets in a years-long battle that has been dismissed by the courts.
The expansion of the terminal, which will add 25,000m2 over two floors of the embarkment area and six new gates, has been in the works since 2017. The Prefecture for the Alpes-Maritimes gave the green light for the project in January 2020 and France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, also confirmed his approval for the extension earlier this month.
Some locals, however, are not happy and, after several failed attempts to get the plans annulled by the courts, around 400 protestors took to the Promenade on the weekend.
Yellow tape resembling the type used by police at a crime scene was strung up between palm trees and protesters spoke widely to reporters about the climatic and environmental threats the extension could have on the area.
“Nice Airport borders a Natura 2000 zone,” one told France 3. “There are 240 protected species here [and] important flora to conserve.”
Work has already begun at the airport, but a recently deposed complaint by protesters, notably from the France Nature Environnement federation, to the Administrative Court in Marseille hopes to bring that to a halt. They await a date to be heard.
Extension and adaptation of pre-existing infrastructure
“The extension will be made to an already tarmac-ed area,” said Christophe Béchu in an on air interview with France Bleu Azur when questioned about the environmental impact the project will have on the neighbouring Natura 2000 zone. It echoed previous statements made by Franck Goldnadel, the chairman of the Board of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur.
In 2022, more than 12 million passengers passed through Nice Airport. In 2019, the last big year for travel pre-Covid, that figure stood at 14.5 million. The airport anticipates a 30% rise in passenger numbers in the coming years and says expansion of Terminal 2 is necessary in order to keep up.
A spokesperson for Nice Airport says the project will allow the travel hub to welcome up to 18 million passengers and 1,000 extra flights annually. The new gates are expected to be operational by summer 2025 and all construction complete by 2026. Works will be temporarily suspended during springtime to allow bird species in the area to nest in peace.
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