Redevelopment of Nantes-Atlantique airport: the file starts from scratch

Back to square one. More than five years after the abandonment of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, the redevelopment of the existing Nantes-Atlantique platform is once again at an impasse. The State has just canceled the call for tenders relating to the renewal of the airport concession contract and its modernization, “for reasons of general interest based on insufficient competition”. The current concessionaire of the equipment, Vinci Airports, was the only candidate in the running.

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However, the problem mainly came from specifications that were poorly put together at the start. This provided for the extension of the landing strip by 400 meters towards Saint-Aignan-de-Grand-Lieu (Loire-Atlantique), a riverside town. However, no elected official in the territory has ever requested this measure. “At the time, the DGAC experts [Direction générale de l’aviation civile] sold the lengthening of the runway as one of the solutions to our problemsscathes Johanna Rolland (PS), mayor of Nantes and president of Nantes Métropole. And now, no one can tell us what it was used for…”

Officially, this runway extension aimed to shift the landing thresholds in order to increase the altitude of the planes during the approach phase, the aim being to limit noise pollution. Yoann La Corte, who piloted the redevelopment project until December 2021 for the DGAC, himself expressed his doubts as to the relevance of this project, judging the benefit of the operation in terms of noise reduction to be marginal. Before ultimately validating this option upon departure. His successor, Nils Raynaud, confirmed the merits of this project, before in turn making a change of heart, admitting that the subject aroused ” a lot of questions “. Particularly by virtue of its negative impact on wetlands and agricultural areas.

“Legal weakening”

It was impossible to remove this extension from the redevelopment project, because the modification would have posed a major legal risk to the file. Vinci Airports’ competitors, who ended up refusing to respond to the call for tenders, could have attacked the contract, arguing that there had been a substantial change in the market. The State ended up recognizing its powerlessness to break the deadlock. As a result, the procedure starts from scratch.

The absence of competition and “legal weakening” of the call for tenders are not the only reasons which pushed the State to review its copy. “The project presented is not good and does not meet the expectations of the territory”, confirms Sarah El Haïry, Secretary of State for Biodiversity and Nantes elected official (MoDem). What’s more, the budget displayed was ” too high “.

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