Association pour le Respect du Site du Mont-Blanc

The Association, its aims, its achievements

Introduction

Since 1991, ARSMB has been aiming to defend environment in the Chamonix Valley. It has mainly been fighting against the international truck traffic going through the Mont-Blanc tunnel and the different kinds of pollutions it creates. However, in order to solve this local problem without moving pollution to other valleys, the association has an overall viewpoint.

The association aims to obtain a radical change in transport policy, on a national and European level, with the transportation of goods by rail and rivers. It is therefore necessary to think about the usefulness of some methods of transportation and their consequences for the economy, the state’s budget, the environment and health.

 

What the association does

Making the citizens and their elected representatives aware of another transport policy

  • Therefore, the association meets local representatives and government members to inform them about our claims and suggestions
  • We also write, print and distribute documentation about environmental problems or alternatives (for example: “transport and pollution: the particular case of Chamonix”)

Being representatives who are always free to debate about conveyance of goods and mention our claims:

  • Existing rules must be put into practice. Trucks must be controlled on Mont-Blanc and other roads
  • Haulage companies should use trains to cross the Alps
  • Combined transport must be developed. If trucks can be put on trains to cross the Alps so can they anywhere else
  • No trucks traffic at night in mountain areas. The pollution from trucks is six times higher at night: temperature inversion traps polluting agents in the valleys
  • Setting up of a tax for trucks on the whole road network to make up for costs caused by road transport ( environmental damages, health costs, road maintenance, accidents)

Our aim is not to miss an opportunity to be present and make people hear our claims:

  • We take part in meetings organised by towns, groups of towns or others (such as “Espace Mont-Blanc” [Mont-Blanc Space] in our area) as soon as we can make people hear our claims when the subject of transports is touched on
  • We react to current events by organising actions known by the press. The press is our main means of communicating with people and we are keen on having a good relationship with it. Obviously, we must remain informed as far as transport matters are concerned and be credible representatives if our opinion is asked for.
  • We organise demonstrations so that anybody can be aware of our actions and hear important people. Each spring, the “Solstice”, dedicated to road transport, gives cyclists an opportunity to gather on the tunnel access road with lectures and shows about the protection of the environment and the conveyance of goods.

Supporting initiatives in favour of our environment

The problems we deal with are complex and do not give us a chance to work on other environmental subjects. Nevertheless, we are often asked for advice about projects concerning environment. We must be aware of these projects if we want to remain a credible organisation people can talk to. Very often, we are a link between the transport of goods and public transport.

Having an overall speech to make people aware of individual behaviours

The problems cannot be solved only by asking the government to take measures. A change in individual behaviours is necessary. We spread this message:

  • Public transports should be used, people should walk or cycle. We also write and distribute documentation about co-car transport.

  • Consumers’ behaviours should change. People should buy local products

  • A new stamp should be created. Consumers would then see which products have not travelled long distance and / or have been brought by less polluting means of transportation. It would convince firms to reduce the transportation of their goods because it is what the consumers want.


Working for a French tax on trucks

We work in a group of French organisations to obtain a reasonable transport policy. We have chosen to work on social and environmental costs which are not included in road fees or tolls. Fair pricing is necessary so that less polluting means of transportation are not disadvantaged: rail transport, shipping and barge transport. It already exists in Switzerland.

This group studies the possibility of creating a tax for trucks in France and Europe. It also studies all the aspects of this project (legal and social aspects, can the project be accepted? who will the money go to?) so that decision makers have a “ready made” file. Therefore, they will not be able to set legal obstacles against it.

 

Conclusion

A world wide consciousness of environmental problems is beginning. We know road transport is responsible for glasshouse gases, pollution and noise. Important measures to decrease road transport and develop shipping, rail and barge transport must be taken. These national and European measures will save Chamonix and its valley. That’s why we want to work on another transport policy. All the support we get shows how much our work is important for our children’s future.