How the presence of toads threatens the opening of a business

Collectively, conservationists and environmentalists are mobilizing to try to save protected species, including toads and frogs, threatened by the expansion – pejoratively – of the Pont-Audemer (Eur) artisanal wetland area.

The group is called “Toads of Pontau”. A logical name for a story that concerns the Batrachians living along one of the rivers of the “little Norman Venice”, in Pont-Audemer.

From the beginning of 2022, team members “Pontau Toads” mobilized to save amphibians, as well as other protected species living on land located in the designated Pont-Audemer Wetland. But this land, located on the rue Saint-Ulfran upstream of the city center and on the outskirts of Risle, was chosen for the construction of the building.

Expanding the scope of activities on land still in its natural state, it is about placing in Pont-Audemaire the premises of SNVC (Norman Meat and Brokerage Company), which must leave the neighboring city of Toutenville to bring its meat processing plants up to the mark and develop their activities in new packaging and sales premises.

In anticipation of the construction of the meat company buildings, an impact study was conducted to assess the environmental impact of the expansion of the business area.

Finally, on February 10, 2022, Prefect Era signed decree allowing SNVC to move to Pont-Audemer taking into account various economic criteria such as the preservation of local jobs and “Possible creation of about ten additional jobs” but also considering “that the SNVC project can claim a imperative reason for the primacy of the public interest.”

In terms of environmental impact, the biodiversity observed in the field cannot “qualify as exceptional because the protected species is neither rare locally nor in the department”, the prefectural decree grants an exception. “permitting the destruction, alteration or degradation of protected species breeding grounds, and the deliberate destruction or damage of protected species specimens.”

Following a prefectural decree allowing the SNVC to arrive at rue Saint-Ulfran, members of the “Les crapauds de Pontau” collective denounced the threat this construction project would pose to local biodiversity and launched a petition.

End of March 2022, France Nature Environment (FNE) supported the Pont-Audemer Collective, which is trying to prevent “the irreversible plunder of an area inhabited by at least eighteen protected species of amphibians, reptiles and birds.”

While FNE understands the need to relocate the company from Tourtaineville and the importance of maintaining jobs in the local sector, the Normandy Federation of Associations for the Conservation of Nature and the Environment believes that other local solutions should be considered on other lands.

France Nature Environnement Normandie considers the selected site to be located in wetlands and in close proximity to the Natura 2000 site between two biodiversity reservoirs. At least eighteen protected species have been inventoried on the territory. including four whose habitat will be heavily affected. The number of species observed in just one day of inventory testifies to the real wealth and the absolute need to preserve this site.”

FNE Normandie also regrets that “this data, although identified by the Boucle de la Seine Normande Regional Natural Park (PNRBSN) and the impact study provided by the applicant, did not carry more weight in the Prefect of Eure’s decision. Although compensatory measures are proposed, their implementation and effectiveness seem questionable. Besides, the mowing work should have already taken place at the beginning of March, at the height of the batrachians’ migration, and this is outside the prefecture’s regulations.”

In early April 2022, a press release from France Nature Environnement Normandie (which brings together 52 associations) announced that an appeal had been filed with the Administrative Court of Rouen:

“This was filed contrary to the decree by which the Prefect of Jura granted SNCV a derogation from protected species. This retreat permits the destruction, alteration, and degradation of protected species’ breeding sites, as well as the deliberate destruction and disturbance of protected species, including several species of amphibians, reptiles, and birds.”

Pending the outcome of this appeal in Pont-Audemer, the activists of the “Les crapauds de Pontau” collective were received by local elected officials. The beginning of a dialogue that should allow, regardless of whether the project takes place on the Rue Saint-Oufrance, to find concrete solutions for better conservation of local biodiversity.

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