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Swiss police clear activists from Lafarge-Holcim quarry

A image from the forced evacuation on Tuesday. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Police in Western Switzerland launched an operation on Tuesday to remove protestors who have been occupying, since last October, a quarry owned by cement maker Lafarge-Holcim.

This content was published on March 30, 2021 - 16:55
Keystone-SDA/RTS/Reuters/dos

Police approached the camp early on Tuesday morning and asked the activists to leave the site; when their request was refused, they began forcibly removing the squatters one by one.

Some of the activists threw stones and shot fireworks at officers, who were carrying out a court order to evict them, police said.

By midday, 150 activists were cleared from the Mormont site, situated between Lausanne and Yverdon in canton Vaud, police said. They also detained 41 of these for questioning. Later in the afternoon, a dozen or so activists were still holding out, according to the Keystone-SDA news agency.

The activists first occupied the quarry last October, as a means of protesting plans by Lafarge-Holcim to expand it. The campaigners said they wanted to protect the local ecosystem from environmental damage.

Lafarge-Holcim and the local commune of La Sarraz filed legal proceedings to remove the activists; Tuesday’s police operation follows the rejection of the campaigners’ legal appeals.

However, since October the environmental activists have also received attention and some support in the local area. Last Friday in Lausanne, as the evacuation date approached, around 1,000 people marched in support of the activists. A motion, signed by some 130 cantonal parliamentarians, has also been handed into the Vaud government, giving backing to the occupying movement.

Lafarge-Holcim has said that in terms of its carbon footprint, its Mormont site near the village of Ecéplens is one of the most energy-efficient in Europe. In the meantime, the proposed expansion of the quarry is uncertain. An objection lodged to the Federal Court is being examined.

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