Judges have rejected a compensation claim for nearly €1.6 billion ($1.7 billion) brought by Nantes airport’s concessionaire over the termination of the drawn-out Notre-Dame-des-Landes programme.

The programme was originally conceived decades ago as a new airport development to address capacity limitations at Nantes Atlantique airport.

But the project was mired in controversy and opposition and French prime minister Edouard Philippe declared in January 2018 that, given the deadlock and changes in the transport economy over the years, it would finally be abandoned.

Nantes concessionaire Aeroport du Grand Ouest, primarily owned by Vinci, had taken legal action over the cancellation.

Aeroport du Grand Ouest insisted that it “must be compensated for damages” resulting from the abandonment, and the “unilateral” modification of the concession.

Aeroport du Grand Ouest-c-Aeroport du Grand Ouest

Source: Aeroport du Grand Ouest

Notre-Dame-des-Landes was cancelled in 2018, more than 50 years after its original conception

But an administrative court ruled on 10 April that the decision by the government to cancel the airport project was reasonable.

“This decision, after the [government] tried for several years to carry out the project planned by the concession despite the strong tensions and opposition expressed, while preserving the various public interests involved, follows considerations of general interest and cannot be considered faulty,” the judgement states.

It says the main argument of Aeroport du Grand Ouest, that the government must pay it €1.599 billion, is “rejected”.

The court has also dismissed subsidiary claims amounting to €158.9 million and €86.6 million.

It has suspended a ruling on other subsidiary claims until a new concession contract is reached and the current one is ended.