France commune

French mayor’s pesticide ban overturned by court

Daniel Cueff, mayor of the town of 602 inhabitants of Langouët (Ille-et-Villaine, Brittany), hit the headlines this month when he was summoned to court after enforcing the ban.

The ban stated that neither pesticides nor herbicides could be used on fields within 150 meters of homes or commercial buildings, within the commune, as a means of “protecting” residents.

But the local authorities said his decision was illegalbecause mayors have no authority on these issues and must defer to national laws.

After the decision, Mr. Cueff noted he would appeal the decision, but admitted: “Logically, the court cannot disobey the head of state.

Still, he defended his position, saying, “[The herbicide] glyphosate is already considered by scientists to be potentially carcinogenic, which obliges us to take precautions within the framework of the French constitution.

“I believe that because the state did not behave responsibly and did not protect the population, it was up to the mayor to respect the French constitution and to take circumstantial measures according to the geography and agricultural methods of his commune. .”

He also called on “all mayors” to introduce a similar ban, and said he would continue to fight, with growing support from his residents and environmental activists.

Mr Cueff had previously said that urine tests on the urine of locals – including children – revealed levels of glyphosate up to 30 times the recommended amount.

After the initial hearing, Mr. Cueff said“What is the power of a mayor? Can a mayor ignore the health of his inhabitants? Since 2009, a European directive has asked France to take measures to protect its inhabitants from pesticide spraying, but nothing has been done.

But the Rennes authorities says that it was not within the remit of a mayor to introduce such a ban.

Reactions to the decision

The case attracted national attention.

President Emmanuel Macron said he “supports the intentions of the mayor”, but added: “There are laws. The authorities must respect them. I will always be behind the authorities who respect the law. The solution is not not to lift a ban that goes against the law, but to work to change the law.”

Mr Macron said he wanted to “move towards greater management of pesticide application areas” because of “the public health consequences”.

The Minister of Ecology Elisabeth Borne noted“I totally share the concerns of the mayor of Langouët. I will launch, in the next few days, a new project on the regulation [of pesticides].”

But Mr Cueff said: ‘We’ve been waiting for this for 10 years. Today, many mayors are asked to act by their inhabitants. People can even approach local authorities directly. We have to move on that.

The mayor recalled that he had “not banned pesticides, but [only] imposed a distance between fields and buildings”.

However, Christian Durlin, environmental vice-president of the farmers’ union FNSEA, said source of information FranceInfo: “Stop [farmers] protecting their crops within 150 meters of buildings means you will quickly stop all growth.

“The regulations on the use of phytosanitary products cannot be left to the competence of mayors; it is under the jurisdiction of national regulations.

Mr Durlin said he would ‘welcome a national dialogue to try to find the best way to allow agricultural and social concerns to co-exist’ but said he would reject ‘unilateral regulation’.

Cueff added that about 20 other mayors had made similar decisions on pesticides, but according to some farmersthe decision was made “without any discussion [with us]”.

They said: “Mayors are the representatives of all citizens, including farmers. The decisions they make must balance everyone’s needs. This was not the case with this decree.