Dordogne countryside under threat

Dordogne countryside under threat

World-famous Baroque musician joins campaign to prevent destruction of Dordogne countryside
Local environment and economy are under threat from “polluting and noisy race track”

Plans to build a 53-acre (21.5 hectare) racetrack in the middle of peaceful Dordogne countryside have been met with anger from local residents, businesses and homeowners, including Ton Koopman, the founder of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.
The racetrack will be built across the communes of Vendoire, Champagne Fontaine and Nanteuil-Auriac-de-Bourzac, an area popular for its beauty, peace and tranquility, and its ecological properties. The architect of the idea – landowner, Yves Dominault who lives 60km away in Périgueux – wants the racetrack to be open eight hours a day, seven days a week, eight months of the year. Around 100 residents live within 1km of the site.
Local residents are horrified at the proposals, which they say will destroy the local economy and environment. Among the many detrimental impacts they claim the track will have include:

  •  Noise: Around 20 vehicles are expected to use the track at the same time, travelling at speeds of between 100km and 200km an hour. This will create a huge and overwhelming level of noise that will disturb communities up to 10km away.
  •  Pollution: Weekend activities will produce 9,600kg of CO2, the equivalent of 1,200 vehicles. Throughout the course of the year, this combines to a massive 332,800kg of CO2. This is more than 10 times what is currently produced.
  •  Destruction of land: The racetrack will be located in the midst of rolling hills currently used to produce a variety of crops. In addition to the genuine loss of agricultural usage, this is an area renowned for its natural beauty. If approved, the huge concrete racetrack will create severe irreversible ecological damage.
  •  Impact on the economy: The local economy is highly dependent on the tourists who visit the area for its natural beauty and tranquility. The racetrack will deter these tourists and have a significant negative impact on local businesses, including the many restaurants, gites and tourist attractions. Particularly affected will be the accommodation situated in elevated locations near to the site and which offer guests a vast panorama.

Ton Koopman is among more than 400 people who have joined Alerte Circuit Vendoire, the campaign group set up to challenge the proposals. The founder of the world-famous Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, his house is just 8km away from the proposed site.
Ton Koopman says: “My home in the Dordogne is a place I use to rehearse. I need peace and quiet to do that – it is very important for my music. I am also concerned about the impact the circuit will have on my festival, Itinerare Baroque, which takes place throughout this local area. Around 5,000 people from all over the world travel here for beautiful music in a beautiful
environment. The noise of cars whizzing around a race track at great speed will be very disturbing to our guests.”
Patrice Hubert, chair of Alerte Circuit Vendoire, says: “If this polluting and noisy race track goes ahead it will have a lasting detrimental impact on the local area – from an ecological and environmental point of view, and an economic one. Several businesses will be at risk of closure and we predict a considerable loss of tourist revenue – something that is of particular importance to the sustainability of this area. We hope the council will take this into consideration when making their decision on 17 March.”
For the racetrack to go ahead, permission needs to be secured from the local council in Riberac. A public consultation is being held on the proposal. People have until Friday 17 March to file comments and complaints against the plans. They can do so by writing to the commissioner of the public enquiry at [email protected]
Editor’s notes:

  •  Interviews and more information is available on request. Please contact Becky Slack at Slack Communications on +44 (0)7854 221 568 or at [email protected] 
  •  Alerte Circuit Vendoire is the campaign group fighting against the construction of a 53-acre (21.5 hectare) racetrack on agricultural land in the communes of Champagne Fontaine, Vendoire and Nanteuil-Auriac-de-Bourzac, in the Dordogne.
  • Ton Koopman is a conductor, organist, harpsichordist, teacher and founder of the world-famous Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir. His festival, Itineraire Baroque is now in its 16th year and takes place between 27 and 30 July in Riberac and the surrounding areas. 
  • The public enquiry by Champagne Fontaine is to consider if the communal plans should be modified to allow the construction of the racetrack. Objections need to be made before the enquiry closes on Friday 17 March. People can make their objections known by: – Sending an email to: [email protected] – Writing to: Monsieur le Commissaire Enquêteur, Mairie de Champaign, 24320 Champagne Fontaine, France. – Writing in the register at the Mairie (address above), which is open Monday to Friday between 14.00 and 17.30.

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