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The ZAD, France

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The expression Zone to Defend or ZAD (French: zone à défendre) is a French neologism used to refer to a militant occupation that is intended to physically blockade a development project. The ZADs are organized particularly in areas with an ecological or agricultural dimension,[1] notably in the permanent blockade village against an airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes. However the name has also been used by occupations in urban areas, e.g.: in Rouen, in Décines-Charpieu. One of the movement's first slogans was "ZADs everywhere" and though there are no official figures, in early 2016 there were estimated to have been between 10 and 15 ZADs across France.


Appearing in France in the early 2010s, the term was first popularized during the opposition to the airport construction project in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, north of Nantes. The ZAD movement has its origins in challenging large infrastructure projects in defense of the environment, local people's right to decide the future of their territories (at the price, if necessary, of conflict with state power) and the rejection of the capitalist economy. In France, the most famous antecedents of the ZAD movement are the Larzac struggle (1971-1981), the protests against the proposed nuclear power plant at Creys-Malville, in Isère (1977), and at Plogoff in the 70s and 80s.

The ZADs have multiplied in France after the failed eviction of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes commune in the autumn of 2012. One of the first to be set up after the failure of the eviction of the ZAD was the ZAD Bouillons farm, near Rouen, occupied against a real estate project by the group Auchan beginning in the winter of 2012. In addition to Notre-Dame-des-Landes ZAD, the best-known cases are those of the opposition to the Sivens dam project in the Tarn where the activist Rémi Fraisse was killed by the French police, at the Center Parks of the forest of Chambaran in Isère, and more recently against project Cigeo in Bure.

Further Materials:


The Eco-Rebels who Beat the French State: Inside la ZAD