The Constitutional Council dismissed Friday the owners of a building in Soulac-sur-Mer (Gironde), threatened with collapse and evacuated since 2014, who are fighting to recognize the dune erosion under natural hazards giving right to compensation.
"Le Signal", a four-storey building built in 1967 200 meters from the shore, is only about ten meters from the ocean, on a small dune ready to collapse . The 75 owners were evacuated by prefectural decree, but not compensated under the so-called "Barnier" fund for major natural risks.
The Constitutional Council was seized of the conformity with the Constitution of an article of the code of the environment , by the co-owners who were rejected successive appeal, until the Council of State which examined the case in January.
This article (L561-1) lists the conditions of declaration of public utility of the expropriation (land movements, avalanches, marine submersion, etc.) but at no time cites dune erosion.
The lawyer for the co-owners had filed a priority question of constitutionality (QPC) concerning the conformity of this article with the Constitution, in the name of the equality of citizens before the law
At the hearing of the Conseil d'Etat, the public protractor had questioned the distinction between dune erosion and marine submersion. Without deciding the debate, he noted the importance of equal treatment of citizens before the law and recommended that the QPC be transmitted to the Constitutional Council.
The latter, in his decision, held that the complaint of lack of knowledge of the principle of equality before the law "must be set aside"
The Sages reiterate that the contested provisions "do not include the risk of coastal erosion" and that the legislator wanted to establish a solidarity mechanism, not " for all the owners of a property exposed to a natural risk, but only (to) to expropriate, against compensation those exposed to certain natural risks. "
" We run up against a wall ", reacted on Friday president of the syndicate of co-owners, Jean-José Guichet, evoking a "flagrant injustice", a "mistreatment for years". He considers that the state "is afraid of jurisprudence" and that the signal file "annoys everyone."
He alerted on the case of "several co-owners in a dramatic financial situation" to continue to repay apartments , inherited for some, "zero value, and without compensation".
The Council of State should now decide on the merits in the coming months.
The co-owners, for their part, hope through the Senate to be able to influence a proposal for a law on coastal adaptation to climate change.