PARIS, May 1 — Paris is aiming to redevelop the area around the Eiffel Tower in time for the 2024 Olympic Games, but the city’s residents are beginning to rebel over a plan that would see 22 trees ripped up.
The Paris mayor’s office wants to build tourist facilities and offices at the foot of the world-famous landmark.
Architect’s projections show semi-submerged buildings covered in greenery.
But campaigners have launched a petition urging the mayor’s office to ditch the plan, expressing particular concern over the fate of some very old trees.
“We reject the felling and endangerment of dozens of healthy trees, in particular the 200-year-old and 100-year-old trees, which really are the city’s green lungs,” says the petition, launched by four environmental groups.
Around 35,000 signatures have been gathered so far.
Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire sought to mollify opponents of the scheme.
“No 100-year-old tree will be cut down,” he said.
His aides told AFP they were working to reduce the number of trees to be felled for the project, having already cut back from 42 to 22.
They also stressed the redevelopment was part of a plan that involved planting dozens of trees and creating a green space across the clogged centre of the French capital.
But campaigners remain unconvinced.
“They are creating some vegetation, but they are destroying a lot of it at the same time,” said Philippe Khayat of the SOS Paris association, one of the backers of the petition.
The tower is one of the world’s most famous buildings and welcomes some seven million visitors a year. — AFP