Rough sea warning, for the straw huts. After being asked by the prefecture to turn down the sound, in 2019, and two summers marked by Covid-19, private beaches now fear for their future, in the Hérault. The State has recently hardened its tone: for a grain of sand in the law, it is no longer about the coasts, with their fragile environment, hosting meals and parties.
In La Grande Motte and Carnon, if for the moment the shopkeepers have been able to install their mattresses and parasols, some are skeptical about the future of their profession. joined by 20 minutes, one of them breathes a little: his concession lasts a few more years. “So, for the moment, we are calm,” he confesses. And then ? If tomorrow, despite the effort made, “they take away the beach, we’re screwed, we have nothing left,” he laments. We are not yet retired. We will point to unemployment. »
The straw huts are “synonymous with the attractiveness and vitality of the coast”
Due to the reservation period due to the presidential elections, the Hérault prefecture did not respond to requests for 20 minutes on straw huts. Last June, its services indicated to the Hérault Tribune that the objective was to defend “a free and natural beach, without concessions every 300 meters”. “The same thing happens with the preservation of the coasts. It is not about making the beach an economic and privatized playground, even if a balance has to be found with questions of attractiveness. It should be noted that the catering was not initially planned for private beaches. In recent years there has been a shift towards the organization of unauthorized parties, sometimes resembling discos, on the beaches. »
The elected officials are in favor of the installation of private beaches on the sand. “They are synonymous with the attractiveness and vitality of the coast”, indicate the services of the municipality of La Grande Motte. In this city, very popular in summer, six private beaches are open this season in Grand Travers, Couchant and Point Zéro. As much as last year. But next year, some may not be able to unfold the loungers. And that, for the municipality, would be a disaster. Its disappearance would be “in total contradiction with our permanent search for quality, the engine of tourist attraction. Knowing that we are in competition with neighboring countries located in the Mediterranean, especially Spain”, says La Grande Motte.
The disappearance of private beaches would be a loss for employment, say elected officials
It would also be a serious blow to employment, which is already struggling in the Hérault. “A beach concession represents an average of 20 full-time equivalents for 6 months,” says the municipality of Les Pyramides. The disappearance of the straw huts, whose income is destined “exclusively by the municipalities to the maintenance and cleaning of the maritime public domain, property of the State”, would also suppose, continues the City Council of La Grande Motte, “a dead weight for municipal finances.
This year we can also relax on six private beaches in Carnon, the neighboring town. As much as in 2021. Yvon Bourrel (several left), the mayor of Mauguio-Carnon, believes his city has “always been very reasonable.” “We didn’t want to put too much pressure on the coast,” says the elected official. However, Yvon Bourrel cannot imagine Carnon without straw huts. “I am campaigning for the maintenance of this economy that also allows local products, short-circuit, viticulture, horticulture, etc. to be highlighted. “, continues the mayor of Mauguio-Carnon, who fears a loss “for the local economy”, in particular for employment.
A court decision against straw huts
But on the coast, straw huts are not unanimous. The Grande Motte Environnement association is particularly fiercely opposed. With others, he won his case, last September, before the Montpellier administrative court, on the illegality of certain private beaches, on the La Grande Motte side.
The justice thus indicated, in its sentence, that “the Motte du Couchant and the Grand Travers beaches of the municipality of La Grande Motte have the quality of a notable space on the coast, in which constructions are built within the framework of the beach concessions (…) as they currently exist”. A small bar, yes. A small snack, yes. Nothing more. A fight for the preservation of the environment and the well-being of the local inhabitants, we entrust to the Grande Motte Environnement association. “One does not go without the other. »