BACKGROUND

Environn’MontBlanc is a non-profit organisation, for the respect of the environment, of health and the improvement of quality of life, especially faced with the noise and air pollution caused by the traffic on the access road to Mont-Blanc tunnel.

Environn'MontBlanc was created in 1996 to fight an enormous road development project on the Route Blanche, at the entrance of Les Houches. Thanks to the efforts of the founders of the organisation this battle was won and the huge flyover never saw the light of day. Instead the main road was tunnelled under and the area above it is once again green and secure. The scar of the access road to the Mont Blanc tunnel is a little less visible, but the noise and air pollution remain.

Galvanised by this victory the non-profit organisation decided to continue its battle to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution from road traffic and, in partnership with other organisations, to work to effect changes to the prevalent all-road transport policy. A long struggle continued in the face of colossal opposition.

Following the Mont Blanc Tunnel tragedy in 1999, Environn'MontBlanc continued to raise collective awareness about the aberration of a transport system based almost exclusively on road transport.

In partnership with the Association for the Respect of the Mont Blanc Site (ARSMB) and many other organisations (local, national and international) Environn'MontBlanc played its part and participated in the effort that led to:

  • The collection of 150,000 signatures (paper at the time) against the reopening of the tunnel to trucks and in favour of a change to transport policy.

  • The organisation of a referendum in the Chamonix Valley on August 19, 2001, in which 99% of voters voted against the reopening the tunnel.

  • Huge rallies involving 3000-5000 people against the reopening of the tunnel to trucks.

  • Substantial work with both national (France Nature Environment) and international organisations (Europe Transport Initiative) to enhance alternative methods of goods transport that are more respectful of human health and of the environment.

Following these high-profile actions, defenders of Mont Blanc’s environment succeeded in elevating the issue of reopening the tunnel and the shift from road to rail to the heart of national political debate. In October 2001, 70% of French people were opposed to the return of international transit trucks through Mont Blanc tunnel. The shift towards rail transport was meanwhile supported by 90% of the French.

On 25 June 2002, after a great day of friendly and peaceful demonstration, riot police were suddenly deployed and tear gas was used to disperse the last protesters, during the night. The way was clear for the return of heavy trucks to the Mont Blanc tunnel after 3 peaceful years...

Many inhabitants of the valley, who had been heavily involved in this fight, were disheartened by this unjust defeat. With great enthusiasm, and perhaps naivety, they had hoped to prevent the return of enormous trucks though the heart of their mountains. They had imagined themselves like the small David who toppled the mighty Goliath.

With the return of heavy goods vehicles, under completely flouted democratic conditions, the steamroller that is the all-road policy had won the battle of Mont Blanc. But local citizens have not said their last word...

For Environn'MontBlanc the commitment to setting up an alternative and realistic transport policy providing cleaner mobility, for people as well as goods, continues. Since 2010, Environn'MontBlanc has been involved in the Plan of Protection of the Atmosphere of the Arve valley (PPA). The organisation sees, within the PPA, the opportunity to finally apply measures on the all-powerful transport sector and reduce its emissions and initiate a shift towards rail transport.