By decree no. 2023-698 dated July 31, 2023, the French government amended decree no. 2022-750 of April 29, 2022, which established a list of municipalities considered to be exposed to the natural phenomenon of coastal erosion. This modification is substantial since no less than 110 new municipalities have joined the list and are added to the 124 already concerned. As a result, France now has 234 municipalities subject to special rules given the risks of shrinking the territory weighing on them. All the coastal regions of metropolitan France are affected. Moreover, some lawyers and scientists believe that the list should grow over the next few years.

Indeed, the phenomenon of coastal erosion, also called shoreline erosion, has the effect of causing the sea or the ocean to progress along the shores. As a result, water “gains ground” on human living places and threatens certain dwellings or infrastructures such as roads/bridges. For 50 years, 30 square kilometers of land have disappeared in France due to the retreat of the coastline. Paradoxically, this phenomenon is partly caused by human life, and in particular the artificialization of the soil or road and land traffic. In addition, the rising waters, resulting itself from the melting of the ice and therefore from global warming (partly caused by humans) is also a source. But it must be recognized that humans are not solely responsible since erosion also results from external factors such as atmospheric pressure.

The aforementioned text therefore aims to regulate land use planning (in particular by adjusting certain provisions applicable to town planning and environmental law) in the municipalities concerned. Concretely, this implies for the municipalities concerned, and intermunicipalities of which they are members, to take this natural phenomenon into account in the development of their town planning documents (local town planning plans, territorial coherence schemes) adopted by the municipal councils. and intermunicipal.

Therefore, the Administration has in particular the obligation to limit the construction of land located in the immediate vicinity of the coast, to adopt plans for the prevention of coastal risks or to consider the conclusion of real leases between public persons and private persons. adapted to coastal erosion.

This adaptation of legal regimes is further proof that in the face of water, man is small. Ultimately, as a famous French singer said, “facing the sea, it is Man who takes on water”.

Sources :

S. Luneau, “Littoral : une nouvelle liste de communes soumises à l’érosion”, La Gazette des communes, 5 juin 2023 ;

“Littoral : 126 communes face à l’érosion côtière”, Vie Publique, 11 mai 2022 ;

S. Pheulpin, “Littoral : une nouvelle liste de communes soumises à l’érosion”, Le Moniteur, 5 juin 2023.

A propos de Valentin BLANCHARD