The mineral wool industry continues to face opposition in France, with leading player Rockwool seeming unlikely to receive the needed permits. Arnaud Svrcek, the Mayor of Courmelles, told L’Union newspaper shortly before the start of the public inquiry to authorize the operation of a mineral wool plant in the Soissons region of France and to apply for a building permit: “I will not sign this permit if I do not do not have all the answers in the health field ”. The public inquiry ended in early January. Local campaigners are said to fear an unfavourable health and environmental impact from the planned plant.
The Mayor confirmed again to L’Union newspaper last week that he will not sign the building permit for the establishment of a Rockwool factory. He must file an order indicating his decision shortly. He explained to the newspaper: “I am referring to the unfavourable opinion of the investigation commissioner and the unanimously unfavourable opinion of the city council. I am making an administrative decision, not a political one.”
According to Ludovic Castillo, president of the opposition association Sauvons Soissons, with the decision of the mayor of Courmelles “The burden of proof is reversed, it is up to Rockwool to appeal against the refusal. If the mayor had given his permit, it was the opponents who should have appealed. What matters is the strength of the mayor’s decision, and it is. He didn’t do it lightly, he got all the advice he needed, and some very wise advice to oppose the permit. We are in a state of law, then we have to see if Rockwool wants to insist when no one wants them.”
A decision is also due from the prefect by the end of March or early April if he consults the Departmental Council for the Environment and Health and Technological Risks (Coderst). It has not yet met, and the prefecture has not answered questions from L’Union newspaper about the timing.
L’Union also suggests that what happens next also depends on the intention of the multinational. As Rockwool recalls in the public inquiry file, which the investigating commissioner repeats in his summary, the industrial group has not yet given its final opinion on the construction of the plant. The company challenges claims that there will be a negative health and environmental impact from the plant.
Beyond France, the mineral wool industry has faced concern that there are additional health risks associated with the installation, removal and disposal of the insulation material. The industry has rejected these claims.