Arnell dismisses talk of expropriation procedure

MARIGOT–First Vice-President Guillaume Arnell was put on the defensive in Thursday’s Territorial Council meeting to clarify one of the agenda points concerning negotiations with the Laurence family to acquire the land needed for the Grand Case Airport runway extension.

On this point (9c), which was ultimately deleted from the agenda, the Council was due to vote on validating a Declaration d’ Utilité Publique (DUP) which in French law is widely interpreted as an administrative procedure that permits expropriation of private land for public purposes.

It is not mandatory for the Collectivité to follow an expropriation procedure if an agreement can be reached.

In January during the New Year wishes, Arnell stated that negotiations with the Laurence family had come “close to an agreement “on a price for the land, and both parties were reportedly satisfied with the process.

Independent Councillor Jules Charville in his intervention expressed surprise when “out of the blue” the beginning of an expropriation procedure was going to be voted on, when to his knowledge the deal was close to finalisation, or even finalised, with the Laurence family.

“The family has no intention of blocking the process; they just want to be treated fairly. They thought a deal was found. In fact I think they are waiting for an official letter of the proposal,” Charville stated.

Arnell in his response insisted there was “no immediate plan to expropriate” concerning the Laurence situation.

“I was assured by the finance director that 4 million euros could be immediately granted to the land owner as a down payment pending the remaining 3 million euros, which they accepted could be paid in instalments,” Arnell explained. “But, one of the topics that did not permit a complete conclusion of the transaction is that civil aviation has not formally determined a security zone for the airport and air traffic, and therefore it was not clear whether the house is in the zone or not.

“The family wanted to know exactly the situation so they can decide. In both cases they believe it would be no more acceptable to live in that situation with the nuisance factor, and therefore there has to be an evaluation of the property. Today’s deliberation was not to expropriate the Laurence family.

“The other point I mentioned is that the Notary has always been a mediator between the Collectivité and the Laurence family, and I felt it fair to ask the Notary to give advice on the interpretation of decisions that will be taken. In any case, the Collectivité favours a continuation of the negotiation process.

“I want to be fair with the Laurence family, fair with what we discussed, and to reassure them that the person in front of them has one voice. What I say in front of you, I don’t say contrary behind your back.

“What we hope now that is that civil aviation will quickly give us the final delimitations so we can move forward into the discussion pertaining to the Laurence house, reconstruction of a new home, declassification of a portion of the land, new access to the home, etc.”

Arnell noted three other cases where no solutions have been found, which may lead to expropriation.

Lengthening of the runaway is the second-phase development of the airport and will permit larger aircraft to be accommodated. The goal of management company SNC Lavelin is to increase passenger traffic to 390,000 per year, instead of 200,000 currently, by the end of the contract in 2036.

Source: The Daily Herald Arnell dismisses talk of expropriation procedure