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New hospital in Saint-Malo: farmers want to save “exceptional land”

farmers against the artificialization of agricultural land for the hospital
This Friday, January 20, 2023, farmers in the Malouine region stepped up to the plate with their local unions FDSEA and JA. They had five banners made to raise public awareness of the artificialization of vegetable land. They will be installed here, in front of the headquarters of Saint-Malo Agglo in Cancale but also at the entrance to the Mottais site, at the Madeleine roundabout, in Atalante and on the edge of the RD 2. ©Le Pays Malouin / BR

“For my health, the hospital on Atalante in the developed area and vegetables on the land of the Mottais”, is it written on their banner deployed, this Friday January 20, 2023, in front of the headquarters of Saint-Malo Agglomeration. Farmers in the Malouine region are now mobilized against the establishment of the future hospital of Saint-Malo and Dinan on an agricultural site. This site is the Mottais plateau, in Saint-Malo, between departmental road 2 and the Fougerais area.

A precious land

Of the valuable vegetable landas are in fact all those of the Saint-Malo market gardening region.

“By its soil, its climate, its women and its men, the Malouine area is traditionally a land of vegetable production, explain the local representatives of the FDSEA and JA 35 unions, Joseph Hubert and Richard Fontaine. It is practically only on the coastal fringe that open-field vegetables are grown (cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, etc.). The climate is milder there, exceptional and frost-free land. But this activity has been threatened by excessive urbanization for 30 years now! »

Half of agricultural land lost in 30 years

During these three decades, “we lost 4,000 hectares of land out of 8,000”, assessed Joseph Hubert, himself a vegetable producer in Cancale. The fault is firstly with the constructions but also with the “coastal land” withdrawn from agriculture, even organic…

Market gardeners recall that the principle of crop rotation, aimed at preserving soil fertility and reducing the risk of disease on plants, requires having enough surface area.

“Confronted with a fait accompli”

From where their anger at seeing further artificialization of market gardening land, which will be impossible to compensate elsewhere. In Mottais, 17 hectares in one piece are operated by Pierrick and Swann Leffray, based in Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes. A rarity, equipped with an irrigation system, which they therefore risk losing. “We have a total of 145 hectares today, but a large part is more than 25 kilometers away in Côtes d’Armor”, they explain.

They and their colleagues also regret having been presented with a fait accompli.

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“The Atalante area has already urbanized 70 hectares at the gates of Saint-Malo. It was to be the last hectares taken from agriculture. And the height is that currently this area is half empty. »

The construction of the Mottais hospital will require around fifteen hectares, according to the Rance Émeraude Hospital Group. But the producers are not fooling themselves. New accesses will be necessary to open up the area. “How much area will that represent in total?” », ask the Saint-Malo vegetable producers, for whom « this project goes against the preservation of agricultural land, against the desire to restore the country’s food sovereignty, against the future of this territory “.

“Atalanta? The best solution “

They also believe that “the other solutions have been swept away out of hand, have not been studied or too quickly”. The producers explain that they understand and support the creation of a new hospital. But they would prefer it in the Atalante zone, on the edge of the 4-lane, directly accessible and already artificial. “The best solution”, according to them.

But it was excluded due to the proximity, in particular, of the Goëmar laboratories, classified not Seveso but ICPE (Installation classified for the protection of the environment).

“Why didn’t that prevent the construction of a swimming pool (AquaMalo, editor’s note)? In addition, there are still locations and space that could be optimized by rearranging the area. (…) It is unthinkable that when setting up the Atalanta zone, moving the hospital was not planned or considered. »

They are waiting for reactions

Instead, they consider, “Saint-Malo is destroying the agriculture of its territory.” They therefore ask for “the suspension of the project” and want that other solutions be studied, and in priority to Atalante. If the project were to go ahead, the farmers would probably have no legal recourse to prevent it…

For now, they rely on local reactions. And hope for clear positions from the elected representatives of Saint-Malo Agglomeration. Recent statements by the mayor of Miniac-Morvan have already demonstrated that there is no unanimity on the question…

Richard Fontaine and Joseph Hubert, JA and FDSEA 35
Richard Fontaine and Joseph Hubert, respectively local Young Farmers and FDSEA 35 representatives. ©Le Pays Malouin / BR

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