Monday, 12 October 2009

mountainous warnings in St Jean de Luz

St Jean de Luz is experiencing a renewed spate of heightened political sentiment. France and Spain have long been known as world leaders for fast, efficient train links. A proposed LGV (the new TGV) link between Paris-Bordeaux and Madrid is set to be developed. This link will run down the coast past St Jean de Luz (great news) and into the Spanish plains. Given the small obstacle that is the Pyrenees planning has come to a stop. However, one lunatic developer has come up with a plan that seems to be gathering momentum.

In order to save a mammoth six minutes from the journey time he has proposed to cut a huge tunnel through La Rhune, the mountain that stands at the end of the Pyrenean chain. The tunnel will be fed by enormous viaducts scraping their way across the countryside. The plans would utterly devastate many Basque villages, completely ruin a wonderful heritage landscape and dramatically increase noise pollution. The plans are reported to cost some €300m (which probably means €0.5bn). There is a perfectly robust train line already in place that currently carries the TGV. What is it with people in local government/council, from which form of slug have they evolved?

As soon as the plans were made public a group of intrepid campaigners climbed La Rhune. They wrote a very strong message against the plans in petrol across the mountain-side, then set fire to it. An enormously dramatic statement and effect. All night long the four hundred metre wide beacon screamed "NO!, NO!, NO!" This weekend I am taking part in further demonstrations in Bayonne and urge any locals who read this to attend.

I am in favour of excellent rail links. It amazes me how good and cost effective an experience travelling by rail in France is, especially after having taken sub-par trains for years in the UK. Once all the plans are in place it would take two hours to get to Paris or Madrid, three to Barcelona and four to Morocco. However, nature and culture have been here far longer and are infintely more important than convenience. A mountain is worth more than six minutes of efficiency savings.

I spoke to one local about their opinions of the plans. They suggested that if the plans went ahead there would probably be a little bit of boom-boom. I enquired what this was. It seems to be the polite way of suggesting terrorist action might be rekindled (the last time was when McDonalds threatened to open).

Basque of the day:- nature :: nolakotasun