Decision No. 2018-698 QPC of 6 April 2018


On 17 January 2018 the Constitutional Council has before it a priority issue of constitutionality by the Council of State. ("See article The SIGNAL", towards an extension of article L. 561-1 of the environmental code to coastal erosion?)

The first paragraph of article L. 561-1 of the Environmental Code provides that:

' Without prejudice to the provisions laid down in article L. 2212-2 and article L. 2212-4 of the general code of local authorities, where a foreseeable risk of movement of land, or of land subsidence due to an underground cavity or a Marnière, avalanches, torrential or fast-rising floods, or marine submerge seriously threatens human lives, the state may declare the expropriation by itself, the communes or their groups, of property exposed to this risk of public utility, Under the conditions laid down in the expropriation code because of public utility and provided that the means of safeguarding and protecting populations are more costly than expropriation benefits. (…)»


The applicant Union submits that these provisions would be unconstitutional because of the non-inclusion of coastal erosion in article L. 561-1 of the Environmental code. This exclusion "méconnaitrait the principle of equality before the law as they would create a difference in unjustified treatment between the owners of property located on land exposed to the risk of coastal erosion and the owner of a property threatened By one of the risks mentioned in articles L. 561-1 of the Environmental code. They would also be contrary to the right of ownership if, in the absence of the benefit of the aforementioned provisions, the owner of a property evacuated by police measure because of the risk of coastal erosion would be expropriated without Compensation. Finally, these provisions would be tainted with negative incompetence under conditions affecting the aforementioned rights and freedoms. »

The Constitutional Council states that the principle of equality does not preclude the different situations being settled in different ways, or that equality is broken for reasons of general interest. Since the difference in treatment is directly related to the purpose of the law that establishes it.

He adds that the legislature, by drafting the provisions of paragraph 1, article L. 561-1 of the Environmental code, has heard restricting the possibility of expropriation to the natural risks exhaustively enumerated in the environmental code.

Finally, the Constitutional Council considered that there was also no infringement of private property, since the main purpose of the expropriation was to deprive the owner of his good.

Thus, the Constitutional Council declares article L. 561-1 of the Constitution-compliant environment code.

It follows from the decision of the Constitutional Council that the building the SIGNAL that was the victim of coastal erosion whose residents had been evacuated will not be eligible for the provisions of article L. 561-1 of the Environmental code.

The natural risk of coastal erosion will therefore not benefit from the expropriation procedure provided for in that article.