Next Friday, Christophe Béchu must go to Terra Botanica to inaugurate a new nocturnal wandering proposed within the large floral park of Angers. But is this long-standing appointment on the agenda of the mayor of the Maine-et-Loire prefecture now on the agenda of the new Minister for Ecological Transition? For Pierre Watrelot, it is obvious. “I hope he will honor us with his presence, he confirmed it again last week, assures the director of the site. Terra Botanica is in complete sync with citizens coming to reconnect with nature. Today, it seems obvious, but a dozen years ago, it was a real UFO in the context of theme parks. »
At the controls of this “UFO”, Christophe Béchu, who in 2004 at the age of 29 became the youngest president of a general council in France. A little guy, already green, in short, who, despite a few calls to order by the regional chamber of accounts in 2015 and then by the Court of Auditors the following year (“The needs for public financing remain particularly important and are even amplified “, noted then the report which was worried about a “structural deficit”), knew how to win its bet. From now on, more than 300,000 visitors flock on average each year to the entrance of the site to admire, on 22 hectares, half a million plants from all over the world pampered by fifty full-time employees (more than a hundred seasonal workers recruited for the summer).
Is this flattering balance sheet enough to guarantee the ecological fiber at Christophe Béchu when it comes time to recover such an emblematic portfolio in 2022? Pierre Watrelot has no doubts: “When we took the initiative to push such a project, it was because at some point, we wanted, the strong sensitivity to ensure that biodiversity was at the heart of our concerns. “A municipal councilor in opposition to the town hall of Angers, the socialist Silvia Camara-Tombini has a more nuanced reading of the epic. “There have always been disagreements on this file. Certainly, this very pretty park is an asset for the territory, but it is excessively expensive for communities, especially the city, because, since Christophe Béchu has been the mayor, she has played her full part in it”, becoming a shareholder in 2015 of the structure up to 48%. In other words, this green setting would have been supported above all by the taxpayers, at least at the beginning, since, today, according to its director, Terra Botanica “is completely self-financing and even generates results”.
Results, the city of King René also harvest excellent on its environmental policy, according to the Observatory of green cities, which propelled Angers to the top of its hexagonal ranking. A trompe-l’oeil triumph for Silvia Camara-Tombini. “Christophe Béchu inherited above all a city renowned for its quality of life, and its many parks preceded his arrival! In terms of ecology, its awareness is very recent. However, it seems important to me that this ministry be occupied by a person with a minimum of experience in this field! I think this is a very bad signal sent to ecology. A relentless indictment also formulated by the former Minister of Ecology Delphine Batho, who also recalled that the secretary general of the Horizons party had voted, in 2016, against the ban on neonicotinoids (bee-killing pesticides). As for the deputy of the Nupes Sandrine Rousseau, she for her part pointed out, this Monday, that she had “never met Christophe Béchu on the slightest ecological struggle”. Finally, more locally, we bitterly point out the route of the new tramway which required the felling of some 300 trees, some of which are centenarians…
For Hélène Cruypenninck, the deputy in charge of this theme at the town hall of Angers, these attacks are unfair. “First, I don’t believe in taking to the streets to carry messages, but to listen to citizens. On the tram, the final objective is to reduce the use of the car, to move towards carbon-free transport. Admittedly, you never cut down a tree lightly, but all the trees cut down were replaced one by one. In general, among the major measures, we had proposed the holding of meetings for the ecological transition of the city of Angers, and as soon as he was re-elected in 2020, Christophe Béchu wanted to take these meetings to the scale of the agglomeration. . So, from an approach that initially concerned 150,000 inhabitants, we went to 300,000 inhabitants. It remains to be seen what will happen when it comes to convincing the 68 million French people of the merits of the orientations taken by the new government in terms of energy.