Lac de Caussade: The two agricultural leaders prosecuted escape prison on appeal

This water reservoir is at the heart of a conflict between defenders of rurality, protectors of the environment and state. Two leaders of the Chamber of Agriculture of Lot-et-Garonne escaped Thursday on appeal from prison for having illegally dug the “Lac de Caussade”.

Serge Bousquet-Cassagne and Patrick Franken, president and vice-president of the department’s chamber of agriculture, were sentenced by the Agen Court of Appeal to ten months imprisonment accompanied by a probationary suspension of eighteen months, while the judgment of first instance had pronounced in July 2020 sentences of nine and eight months firm .

40.20 euros fine for the Chamber of Agriculture

The Court of Appeal does not did not retain this time the endangerment of the lives of others for the construction of this dike without respecting the standards, and did not revoke the reprieve of previous convictions either.

The two defendants will still have to pay 7.000 euros for am each plus 1.000 euros for the civil parties for the reimbursement of legal costs. They will also have to pay .900 euros to Enedis whose installations had been damaged. The Chamber of Agriculture will have to pay 40.000 euros fine, half of which is suspended, as in the first instance.

A water reservoir built to irrigate farms in the dry season

“We knew very well that the justice system in our country was not going to put us in prison for having made a lake”, welcomed the the exit from the hearing Serge Bousquet-Cassagne, who saw in this judgment a “snub for environmental associations”.

“Quite the contrary”, replied Lionel Feuillas for France Nature Environnement, civil party. “This is the first time that two leaders of a chamber of agriculture and the chamber of agriculture itself have been sentenced to criminal charges for environmental offences”.

This water reservoir north of Villeneuve-sur-Lot was dug in 2019 by the Chamber of Agriculture, managed by the Rural Coordination (CR 47), for a few dozen farmers wishing to irrigate their farms in the dry season.

The illegality of the work confirmed by justice

Contested by environmental associations but supported by elected officials from the right and left, this artificial lake has given rise to a legal saga coupled with a dialogue of the deaf since the cancellation at the end 2019 – after intervention of the Ministries of Ecological Transition and Agriculture – of a prefectural decree initially authorizing the works.

Administratively, the court confirmed é in February 2020 appealing the illegality of the work, without ordering the restoration of the site, which has been in operation for several years and which FNE intends make disappear.