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14th Aug 2022

Climate activists plug golf holes with cement in protest over water ban exemption

Jack Peat

Golf courses have been permitted to water greens during an unprecedented drought 

Climate activists in France have plugged golf holes with cement in protest over a water ban exemption.

Many parts of the country have been hit with severe water shortages this summer, with parts of the Loire river virtually dried up.

Across two-thirds of France, a state of crisis has been declared, with rainfall down by some 85 per cent.

Up to 100 villages are reportedly short of drinking water.

Golf greens have been exempt from restrictions, with officials saying they would die in days without regular water.

While residents cannot water their gardens or wash their cars in the worst-hit municipalities, golf courses have been permitted to keep up their groundwork.

“A golf course without a green is like an ice-rink without ice,” Gérard Rougier of the French Golf Federation told the France Info news website. He added that 15,000 people worked in golf courses across the country.

But the move has sparked protests in southern France, with one group – claimed to be a local branch of the Extinction Rebellion movement – filling golf course holes with cement in protest.

The group targeted sites near the city of Toulouse, calling golf the “leisure industry of the most privileged”.

In a petition, the activists said the exemption showed that “economic madness takes precedence over ecological reason”.

The water bans are decreed nationally, but enforcement is at the discretion of regional officials. So far only one area, Ille-et-Villaine in western France, has diverged, banning the watering of golf courses.

The Green mayor of the south-eastern city of Grenoble city, Éric Piolle, criticised the exemption saying: “We continue to protect the rich and powerful.”

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