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Sivens Dam on Tescou river, France


Resistance to a dam project in France has gained international attention after a young activist was killed by police during a protest.

The project of damming the river Tescou at Sivens, in the Nord-Ouest du Tarn (municipality of Lisle sur Tarn, about 10 km from Gaillac), dates back to about 40 years ago. The dam is supposed to retain the waters in a forest area known as Espaces Boisés Classés (EBC) which falls within an area of ecological relevance for its fauna and flora, known as Zone Naturelle d’Intérêt Ecologique, Faunistique et Floristique (ZNIEFF). The TESTET zone is the last remaining humid forest in the Tescou region. It is home to 94 endangered animal species . Around 60% of the acquired area for the project is forest area (29ha out of a total 48).

The dam, whose reservoir is planned to reach a capacity of 1,5 million m3, would submerge the wetland of Testet, one of the most important in the department for its biodiversity. However, the river Tescou is already affected by 185 dams of various sizes, stocking 5,1 million m3.

The main body in charge of the project is the Conseil Général du Tarn and its delegate Compagnie d’Aménagement des Coteaux de Gascogne (CACG).

The agreement on the project so far has been that 30% of the water volume stocked in the reservoir would serve for pollution dilution purposes of the waters, while the remaining 70% would be allocated for the irrigation of at least 309ha.

The project will be entirely funded by public funds; the Conseil Général du Tarn for 10%, the CG de Tarn-et-Garonne for other 10%, the Agence de l'Eau Adour-Garonne (50%) and by European funds through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (30%) -2 million, from a total of 8.4 million euro .

Local groups have come together to oppose the project. The protesters say the dam-building process has been anti-democratic involving no consultation of environmental groups and that CACG carried out the study to ascertain the need for the project. They also claim the dam will hold more water than the region needs.

For many months, the activists have been living in and occupying the forest where the dam is supposed to be built. They've faced violent police repression since the beginning of the dam construction. In late October 2014, a peaceful demonstration was organized, where 5000 people rallied urging local authorities and the government to stop the project. Late in the night, a 21 year old student, Remi Fraisse, was hit on the back by a police grenade and died.

Since then, protest has intensified and local French authorities decided on October 31 to suspend work on the dam.

The project is also under examination by the European Commission. A procedure for breach of European environmental law could be launched against France, in particular the Natural Habitats directive, which aims to maintain biodiversity in the member states.

According to Euroactive website, French Green MEP José Bové said "after the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport, this is the second development project to be investigated by the Commission [...]. We urgently need to review France’s rules on the authorization of development projects and the procedure for declarations of public utility, to make sure they conform to European law before irreversible work is carried out".

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Sivens Dam on Tescou river, France
State or province:Departement de Tarn
Location of conflict:Testet, Lisle sur Tarn
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Water

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The reservoir will have a capacity of 1,5 million m3 and will approximatively have the following measures:

1,5 Km length

230 m width

48 ha project's area

4 m depth

Level of Investment:10,700,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2014
Company names or state enterprises: Compagnie Fruitière from France
Relevant government actors:Conseil Général du Tarn
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
European Union (EU)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Confédération Paysanne, Europe Écologie, the Parti de Gauche and the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Potential: Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Project temporarily suspended
Remi Fraisse was killed by a police grenade during a demonstration on the night between 25th to the 26th of October 2014. He had joint a public demonstration at the dam site.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:As of now, the government and appointed authorities have not properly responded to the committees' pledges and claims.
Abuse of public force has led to the death of a young activits. Investigation on the case is ongoing. [1]

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Natura 2000

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Project description by local collective

Communiqué d'occupants de la ZAD du Testet

BLOG - Tant qu'il y aura des bouilles

ZAD - Un camarade tué au Testet – Appel à manifester contre la violence d’Etat – à Nantes et ailleurs

The Guardian - French Socialists and Greens at odds following death of Sivens dam protester

France: Protests erupt after green activist killed in anti-dam struggle, Sunday, November 9, 2014. Green Left

La Depeche - Semaine cruciale à Sivens pour le projet de barrage, August 2014

[1] Le Monde - Mort de Rémi Fraisse : une communication officielle parcellaire 14.11.2014

Euractive - Brussels to scrutinise French Sivens dam project

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

VIDEOS. Mort de Rémi Fraisse : les lycéens manifestent à Paris

Meta information

Contributor:Daniela Del Bene, ICTA - UAB (email contact: d.delbene(at)
Last update25/11/2014



Protests after the death of Remi Fraisse


Solidarity with Remi