French climate activists protest over golf greens' exemption from water ban

Activists fill holes on Toulouse course with cement

Local French activists sabotaged the golf courses of Vieille-Toulouse and Blagnac by permanently blocking certain holes with cement in protest at the exemption of golf greens from water restrictions amid a sever drought. photo: 
@xrToulouse twitter
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French climate activists filled holes at a golf course with cement in protest at a water ban exemption across greens in the country amid a severe drought.

Protesters from the Extinction Rebellion organisation, targeted a golf course in Toulouse, southern France, calling the sport the “leisure industry of the most privileged”.

July saw a record rainfall deficit in France and more than 100 French villages are currently short of drinking water.

Severe drought has led to many European countries imposing water restrictions, including the UK, and France activated its crisis unit earlier this month in response to the worrying conditions.

Some parts of the Loire river have virtually dried up and rainfall is down by about 85 per cent across France.

The exemptions of golf from restrictions has prompted outrage among environmentalists including the Green mayor of the south-eastern city of Grenoble city, Eric Piolle, who said: “We continue to protect the rich and powerful.”

However, Gerard Rougier of the French Golf Federation told the France Info news website that a “golf course without a green is like an ice-rink without ice” and gave a warning that the greens would die within three days without water.

He added that 15,000 people worked in golf courses across the country.

There are some constraints on the golf course including limiting watering to night-time and with no more than 30 per cent of the usual volume of water.

The local activists said the exemption showed that “economic madness takes precedence over ecological reason”.

“At a time when the greatest drought ever observed in France since the beginning of meteorological readings is raging, while the drying up of rivers is accelerating in our regions, at a time when 93 departments out of 96 are placed under water use restrictions, resulting in total bans on irrigation for certain market gardeners and for agriculture; a sector concerning a tiny fraction of the population seems to enjoy a privilege worthy of another world in these times of crisis; golf,” the group said in its online petition.

The group said it is calling for the end of exemptions to water restrictions on golf courses.

Updated: August 14, 2022, 12:44 PM