ZAD de Roybon

On Saturday and Sunday August 5/6, we arrived at the ZAD de Roybon. Some people had preferred to come here directly from Grenoble and not visit the bar collective, so the group split up and arrived on two different days. Roybon is on over 600 metres of altitude, so it was a tough day of cycling to get here.

The ZAD is an occupation of a forest to prevent the construction of a huge holiday park called “Center Parc”. The plan is to cut big parts of the forest in order construct a huge dome with a water park at tropical climate inside, and to construct a holiday village for several thousands of people around it. For the local population this would mean a big increase of traffic, possible pollution of the ground (as a really long waste water pipe would have to be constructed in a terrain that moves often, so leakages are likely), and general ecological damage, while not providing much benefit for the local people. In addition, the company wanting to construct the park is not planning to operate it, but to just sell it again, and they have made a profit with similar projects before that then just went bankrupt after some years.

The forest used to be communal, but was sold to the company without properly informing the local population and for a really low price. At the moment, most of the local people support the construction of the holiday park because they are hoping for jobs and more customers in local shops, but more and more are realising that this is probably just an illusion. While the Zadists are making sure by their physical presence that the construction cannot continue, there is a local association that takes care of suing the company. So far they have won the court cases, but the last appeal in front of the highest court still has to be fought. If the activists lose the case, they are ready to bring it to a European level, but it is questionable whether this will have much impact.

Despite the open court case, the company started cutting the forest in 2014. As a result, there was a big demonstration and the people decided to block the machines, squat the forest and a nearby unused building. The company soon removed the machines from the forest, and the Zadists erected barricades and are since guarding the forest all year round. Right now, the situation is pretty calm, the police have not shown up for more than a year, but this might change once the court case is decided.

During our stay in the ZAD we had a tour around the forest (which is huge and takes multiple hours to see everything), cooked some meals together with the Zadists, helped the construction of a cob house while digging a cellar into the clay ground, chopped wood, debarked construction wood, helped empty a space that will be used for a new building, and watched some short movies together. On Monday it was very rainy, so we stayed inside and had a discussion about political struggles in the towns and regions where each of us lives.

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