After a gathering of several thousand people over the weekend, around 300 according to the authorities remained Monday in a camp set up in a field near the site, loaned by a farmer opposed to this project dedicated to irrigation.

These opponents, united under the banner of the collective “Bassines non merci”, plan on this Halloween day to “distribute sweets” to the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, explaining their opposition to this project which they consider as a “grabbing of water” by “agro-industry”, explained to AFP Jean-Jacques Guillet, one of the spokespersons for the movement.

“The objective is not to organize a ZAD (zone to defend, editor’s note)” but “to be on this ground to monitor the site” from a wooden watchtower, built during the weekend. end, he added.

According to the Uprisings of the Earth collective, which supports the anti-basin movement, opponents intend to go to the site again on Wednesday morning, where construction work on the reservoir is to resume.

Sunday evening, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced the maintenance of “more than 1,000 gendarmes” in the area to prevent “no ZAD from setting up”.

On Saturday, several thousand people (4,000 according to the authorities, 7,000 according to the organizers) gathered in Sainte-Soline to protest.

Violent clashes erupted with the 1,500 gendarmes mobilized when activists wanted to enter the site, which was forbidden to access. Some of them succeeded before being repelled.

According to the Niort prosecutor’s office, four of the six people arrested on Saturday are to be tried on Monday in immediate appearance for “participation in a group formed to commit violence and degradation”. Police custody was lifted for “medical incompatibility” and a man arrested for refusing to comply will be tried by criminal order.

The Sainte-Soline site is part of a project of 16 water reservoirs of several hundred thousand cubic meters of water, nicknamed “basins” by opponents, developed by a group of 400 farmers with the aim of reducing their withdrawals for irrigation during the summer, thanks to the pumping of surface water tables in winter.

In return, the promoters of the project, supported by the State, are committed to the implementation of agricultural practices geared towards agro-ecology. Their detractors see it on the contrary as a “leak forward” of the “productivist” agricultural model and an ecological aberration at the time of global warming.