Against the Rockwool factory project near Soissons, the mayor of Courmelles delivered his fight
The administrative court of Amiens must give its decision starting this Tuesday on the appeal of Rockwool and the prefecture of Aisne against the refusal of the mayor of Courmelles to sign the building permit for the planned rock wool factory. near Soissons. At the same time, Arnaud Svrcek recounted his fight in a highly publicized book.
The success exceeded his expectations. Over the past few days, Arnaud Svrcek has been all over the media landscape when promoting his book. He multiplies dedications, gives radio and TV interviews. This 55-year-old farmer is the mayor of Courmelles, a town of 1,800 inhabitants in the suburbs of Soissons. He has just been published by Editions du Seuil “the village against the multinational”. In this book, the elected official narrates and explains his opposition to the rock wool factory project of the Rockwool group located in the plateau area near Soissons, in the territory of his community.
For several months, Arnaud Svrcek has been at the heart of legal proceedings that pit him against Rockwool and the prefectural services for refusing to sign the building permit for the factory in March 2021 when the State gave the green light . His decision has been challenged by those concerned before the administrative court of Amiens which is due to give its decision as early as Tuesday.
And here is the mayor of Courmelles who pushed, in fact, leader of the opposition to the project. A battle that now takes on the appearance of small versus large. If Arnaud Svreck has the support of the factory’s opponents, the Danish industrialist, world leader in the field, can boast the support of the majority of the Greater Soissons urban council, its president the mayor of Soissons, and even the President of the Regional Council, Xavier Bertrand.
However, as he admitted, when he was elected mayor in 2020, Rockwool was for Arnaud Svrcek a file among others. “When I was campaigning, I had other projects for my town. I had no opinion on the technical, health or political side of the file. I discovered the position of mayor”. The click, according to him, came through reasoning during the public inquiry. “I have told people. You may be for or against, but express yourself. Reading the file and information taken in my entourage from health professionals, I have seen the products that the factory will reject and the amount is not recommended”.
Following the public inquiry, the investigating commissioner issued an unfavorable opinion on the project, but it is only advisory and will not be followed by the prefect of Aisne. From there, Arnaud Svrcek, convinced of the environmental risk and lack of interest in terms of jobs, refused to sign the construction permit for the factory. A decision needed according to him: “This is the only project that is united against him within the municipal council. I did not see myself given a favorable opinion”.
This position is of interest to an editor. He asked the chosen one to tell his fight in a book co-written with author David Breger. In this book, the product of a year and a half of work, Arnaud Svrcek recounts his experience in 150 pages and develops his arguments against the project. “It is the idea of communicating what we are going through, of having a platform to show the issues. It is a good vector. The work has not been in vain, I receive messages of support from All over France“, said the mayor.
Not against the industry
Throughout the pages, Arnaud Svrcek also traces his trip to Saint-Eloy-lès-Mines in Auvergne where he visited the existing Rockwool factory. A trip from which he returned strengthened his opposition. However, Arnaud Svrcek denied being hostile in principle to industry and deplored the fact that the environmental and industrial subject were in conflict. “due to intellectual laziness”. “They want to paint me a picture of a vague stubborn. I also have a license of a transport company or a props manufacturer. It’s 50 non-polluting industrial jobs with a ratio to the right hectare . Rockwool, on the other hand, is 3 jobs per hectare for 40 hectares of land”.
The mayor of Courmelles is not unaware of the drama experienced in Soissonnais following deindustrialization, but in his view it does not justify the acceptance of all projects. “whatever the cost”. “We are nostalgic for the good old days. We had flagships, it was dramatic, but today the world is changing. The return of big companies, honestly I don’t believe it for a second. It’s a world gone. Rockwool, it’s a bad economic project. We’re going to deprive ourselves of better, it’s my conviction. Maybe I’m wrong”.
The administrative court of Amiens will then decide the merits of Arnaud Svrcek’s fight. The justice must give its decision as of Tuesday. The chosen one hardly expects a favorable decision. During the review of the file, the public rapporteur underlined “a bias not in favor of the construction project, inconsistent with the teaching of the building permit”. He felt it “the principle of impartiality of the mayor (…) was violated”.
However, Arnaud Svrcez is not worried, “even if I ask for millions of euros in damages”. In any case, the decision will be only a step for him, not the end of the fight.