Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport’s fourth terminal will eventually not come out the ground. This February 11, Minister of Ecologic Transition Barbara Pompili has announced in Le Monde “the government has asked [the Group] ADP to give up on their project and come up with a new one, more coherent with their goals in the fight against global warming and environmental protection”.
Faced with the request, ADP group board of directors – managing the Roissy and Orly airports in Paris – is to gather and validate this decision in the week of February 15th.
The French government wishes to cancel the project that is “obsolete, and no longer in compliance with the government’s environmental policy and with the demands of an always-changing sector”, the minister explains. The reason is also the dramatic decrease in the air traffic, that does not justify the opening of a new terminal. As a matter of fact, the Covid-19 crisis and all the consequences that have resulted from it have led to a 69% decrease of the traffic in 2020. According to estimations, the traffic in Paris airports is expected to resume to normal only between 2024 and 2027.
This aborted project would have made it possible to welcome 40 million more passengers per year by 2037, and 450 extra flights a day. Impressive goals that would have been possible thanks to a construction budget estimated between seven and nine billion euros.
Yet, the health crisis has affected the project and these new travelers are no longer expected. Therefore, the government offers ADP group to think about a new project, better fitting the sector’s realities and that does not require to widen the airport. “We will always need planes, but we have to use the airspace more reasonably and decrease the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions” Pompili explains.
The new project has to meet three criteria given by the State. Roissy-CDG must improve train access and improve the train facilities then. The airport also has to adapt to geothermics to heat all facilities and buildings while cutting its energy consumption down. Last but not least, the government pushes the plan to lower carbon emissions, with pressing needs to get hydrogen or electric planes in order to develop carbon neutral airplane by 2035.
The T4 project is then canceled at the right time. Works for the extension were set to start three years ago. Already delayed, the worksite was to open later this year. In other words, this is fortunate the government steps in before it gets started.
New eco-friendly goals
Even though such delay is unfortunate, the new terminal construction project has caused many people to be against it. In 2019, the environmental authorities considered the ecological impact of this new terminal was too big and did not match France’s environmental commitments.
As a matter of fact, the increase in flights led to an increase in car traffic and all the greenhouse gas emissions related to the project. Moreover, the T4 would have caused the air quality to deteriorate and more noise, which would have had consequences on “locals’ and airport platform residents’ health”.
Following the assessment, ADP group has had to change things and “adapt [their] project to take priorities from the health crisis into account and comply with the schedule”. Changes made were yet not enough for some people. Early 2021, about a hundred mayors from Île-de-France urged Emmanuel Macron to put an end to the T4 project. Associations defending the environment and local groups also reached the minister of ecological transition to protest against the widening works.
Giving up on the terminal four and drafting a new project at the Roissy airport echo the “climate and resilience” draft bill presented during the ministerial council the day prior to Pompili’s statement. This text plans a stricter supervision of the creation or extension of airports starting 2022 by not declaring these operations “as public interest if they tend to increase greenhouse gas emissions” of the air sector.
The Roissy airport is not the only one to be aimed at by these new restrictions. The Nantes-Atlantique, Bâle-Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) airports, overseas airports and military airports are no longer able to conduct similar works. Furthermore, the draft bill intends to ban some domestic flights when the trip can be completed by train under 2.5 hours.