Home » today » News » Is Christophe Béchu really an environmentalist? In his city of Angers, the results are mixed.

Is Christophe Béchu really an environmentalist? In his city of Angers, the results are mixed.

POLITICS – “Minister yes! But then Minister of Ecology, that’s a surprise. This is more or less the answer that all the Angevins questioned by Le HuffPost have given. Promoted on July 4 to the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Christophe Béchu, mayor of Angers and president of Angers Loire Métropole does not really have the profile of a green minister.

In the city, of which he has been mayor since 2014, his ecological record is far from unanimous, as you can see in the video at the top of the article.

However, Angers has for several years been presented as THE green city par excellence. This is indicated by several rankings, carried in particular by the Observatory of green cities in France. This first position is also put forward as an argument by the presidential majority to explain the appointment of Christophe Béchu to his ministry.

This ranking (which is indeed aptly named) is only interested in the proportion of green spaces and their maintenance. However, in Angers there is a large area of ​​floodplains and protected areas, which cannot be built on. Christophe Béchu also said he had planted more than 100,000 trees during his two terms.

Green Cities Observatory

In 2020, Angers was voted the greenest city in France.

On the banks of the Maine, on the large green space that covers the expressway bridge, Margaux, a political science student explains: “ecology is not really her favorite field. He is a very good mayor, he accentuates the presence of green spaces, but it remains at the local level”.

Difficult to walk in Angers without recognizing the municipal team’s real desire to green the urban space. On the outskirts of the castle, a tree-lined corridor leads to fountains. Very close to the town hall, at the end of the garden of the mall, century-old and diseased trees have been replaced by vigorous young shoots, near which the species of the tree in question is listed.

A mandate for the economy, the second for ecology

This is where we met Corinne Bouchoux, a former EELV senator who became a municipal councilor alongside Christophe Béchu, right-wing mayor close to Édouard Philippe. This is why the municipal opposition qualifies it as a “catch of war” as its experience of environmental issues is precious.

“We have nothing to be ashamed of in terms of ecological transition in Angers”, swears Corinne Bouchoux, referring to her meeting with Christophe Béchu on the benches of the Senate where he sat under the UMP then LR label. First an opponent, Senator EELV is on her list in 2020 and becomes her municipal councilor. In Angers Loire Métropole, of which Christophe Béchu is president, she is vice-president in charge of ecological transition. Corinne Bouchoux says she “felt an awareness” of the new minister: “his first mandate was very focused on the economic development of Angers. His second placed the ecological transition at the top of his list of priorities.

He is even launching the Assises de la Transition Écologique in 2020. Through this wide consultation of the inhabitants, associations and companies of the 29 municipalities of the metropolis, Christophe Béchu hopes for concrete and above all cross-partisan measures. For the opposition, he was already preparing for the linked ministry of Ecological Transition.

The car, queen of Angers

There is however a black point in the balance sheet of Christophe Béchu. In Angers, you can get around easily by car, park without too many problems; a situation contrary to that which we know in the other large French cities where the automobile is gradually prevented, if not banned. The first hour of parking is free in most covered car parks in the city center, encouraging Angevins to travel by car and not by public transport.

In a study published by INSEE, we note that to get to work, the car is largely preferred to the detriment of public transport. The municipality plans to encourage soft mobility with a check for 200 euros for the purchase of an electric bike, 50 for a classic bike. The construction of two additional tram lines should also make it possible to offer an alternative to the car in town.

Very close to the city centre, a 1,000-space car park can accommodate vehicles for those wishing to travel to Angers. Once parked, just take the pedestrian footbridge (on which a tram is under construction) which overlooks the Maine to reach the hypercentre, the castle and the shops. This car park is located on Place de la Rochefoucauld, one of the largest wooded squares in France.

“The Béchu paradox”

Florence Denier-Pasquier of the France Nature Environnement association sees in this “the Béchu paradox”. “He classified a hundred trees, which was specifically requested, but increased the capacity of the car parks. He voted against the southern ring road but continues to encourage traffic on the roads on the bank”.

The France Nature Environnement association says it has worked on many issues with Christophe Béchu “in good understanding” but deplores a piecemeal approach. “We need a systemic approach to urban mobility to lead the fight against climate change together.” On the tracks on the bank, traffic has been limited to 50 km / h but it is frequented by many heavy goods vehicles. “There is a challenge of reclaiming this space. These routes finally deprive the inhabitants of the banks of the Maine”.

In most urban centers with access to a watercourse, pedestrian development of the banks is now the rule, as is the case in Rouen for example. Here again, Angers is an exception.

See also on The HuffPost: It will not be voted on, so what is the use of the motion of censure filed by the NUPES?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.