After a demonstration of several thousand people on the construction site of a reservoir in Sainte-Soline (Deux-Sèvres) at the end of October, the opponents had announced a new rally in the spring in this department.

They had specified Thursday evening that a demonstration would take place on Saturday March 25 in the morning "in Sainte-Soline" "and / or Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon", where such a reserve is already operating.

In a press release on Friday, the prefect Emmanuelle Dubée said she had notified "her intention" to ban the organizers from demonstrating: the Bassines Non Merci collective, the Les Uprisings of the Earth movement and the Confédération paysanne union.

The Earth Uprisings denounced this "predictable maneuver by the prefecture to create an anxiety-provoking climate" and reacted by inviting "the population (...) not to give in on their fundamental right to demonstrate".

"We have no doubt that we will manage to come together, despite possible police obstacles and checks," they added in a statement.

The prefecture justified "its desire to ban" the demonstrations "by the history of serious disturbances to public order observed during previous demonstrations having led to violent acts against the police and the police. acts of sabotage on agricultural installations".

On Tuesday, the prefect had asked the organizers to "express their opposition to the project in a peaceful and respectful way".

The first demonstrations took place in the department in the fall of 2021, then in the spring of 2022, before that of the end of October despite other prefectural bans.

For the last gathering, the authorities had mobilized more than 1,500 gendarmes to protect the Sainte-Soline site.

The "basins" of Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon and Sainte-Soline are the first two of a set of 16 reservoirs of several hundred thousand m3 planned in Deux-Sèvres.

A total of 93 substitution reserves are planned in the former Poitou-Charentes region and are currently the subject of legal proceedings filed by opponents, according to a group of opponents' associations.

These projects aim to store water for irrigation during the summer, by pumping surface water tables in winter.

Its detractors denounce a "grabbing of water" intended for "agro-industry", while its promoters promise to reduce withdrawals and adopt practices oriented towards agroecology, while the winter drought has revived the debate around the uses of water.

© 2023 AFP