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What is a classified site?
The law of 2 May 1930, now codified (Articles L.341-1 to 342-22 of the Environmental Code), provides that natural monuments or sites of artistic, historical, scientific, legendary or picturesque interest general can be protected. It states two levels of protection:
- The inscription the recognition of the interest of a site whose evolution requires particular vigilance. This is the first level of protection that can lead to a ranking.
- The classifications very strong protection to preserve the sites of exceptional or remarkable heritage value.
Departmental atlases of listed and registered sites have been completed. Composed of two components (a cartographic component and a file presenting each site in terms of its heritage interest and the management principles to be observed), they are intended to facilitate the knowledge of this heritage and its consideration, in terms of, particularly urbanism.
The Grand Site National Operations (OGS) are initiatives initiated by the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development for the most prestigious sites and which are degraded or threatened by too much tourism. They aim to improve public reception and adapt it to the quality and fragility of each site.
The inscription concerns sites deserving of protection but not of sufficient interest to justify their classification, or constitutes a precautionary measure before classification. The classification offers stronger protection compared to the inscription, by prohibiting, except special authorization, the realization of all works tending to modify the aspect of the site.
The initiative of launching the procedure of classification of a site returns either to the minister, or to the regional directorates of the environment, or to the departmental commissions of the sites, perspectives, and landscapes. The procedure depends on the nature of the owners concerned.
– When the site belongs in whole or in part to private persons, an investigation is opened by the perfect allowing any interested person, and not only the owners, to make his observations. This investigation falls under a specific procedure defined in articles 4 and 5 of the decree of 1969. The owners have a period of twenty days to notify the prefect of their consent or opposition to the project. The same amount of time is left to the owner or to each of the owners to make their observations known. At the end of this period, if the order of investigation was notified to the owner, the silence of the latter amounts to a tacit agreement; in the absence of notification, its silence amounts to the opposition. In case of agreement of the owners, the decision of classification is then taken by the order of the minister in charge of the sites after the opinion of the departmental committee of the sites. In case of express or tacit opposition of an owner, a decree in the council of state is necessary after the opinion of the departmental committee and the higher commission of sites, perspectives, and landscapes. There is then the classification of office.
– When the site belongs to the State or to a public person other than the State, the investigation is not necessary. In case of agreement between the Minister of Finance and the Minister in whose attributions the site is placed, the classification is pronounced by order of the Minister in charge of the sites. Failing agreement, the decision is made by decree in the Council of State.
– Finally, if the site belongs to a public person other than the State (commune, department, public establishment, etc.) and that this one agrees, the decision of classification is taken by the minister in charge of the sites. Otherwise, the decision must be taken by decree in the Council of State.
The classification decision is published in the Official Journal and is notified individually to the owners if the classification contains prescriptions likely to modify the state or use of the premises. The Official Journal also publishes each year the list of sites classified during the past year.
In municipalities with an approved local urban plan, the perimeter must appear in the appendix of public utility easements enforceable against third parties within one year from the entry into force of the servitude. Otherwise, the easement becomes unenforceable through the building permit.
The management to be carried out in the sites varies according to the sites themselves. Thus, the management of rocky coasts or cliffs, bodies of water, natural monuments, waterfalls, rocks, or remarkable trees, will often be less complex to drive than that of agricultural, forest or aquaculture spaces, historical sites or high places of memory; in these cases, management is conducted in consultation with numerous local actors, owners, operators or users of these spaces.
The law provides for two levels of protection: registration and classification, with the ranking being the most restrictive. Classified and registered sites enjoy regulatory protection. Although protection decisions do not include regulations such as nature reserves, they have the effect of triggering specific control procedures on activities likely to affect the property.
In classified site, any modification of the state or the aspect of the site is subjected to a special authorization either of the prefect or of the minister in charge of the sites after consultation of a departmental commission, prior to the delivery of the authorizations of the common law. Activities that have no lasting impact on the aspect of the site such as hunting, fishing, agriculture, continue to operate freely. Camping, the creation of trailer parks and the installation of holiday villages are prohibited except special derogation granted by the Minister in charge of the sites.
New telephone and electrical networks must be landfilled, except in special cases for technical reasons. Advertising is totally prohibited in natural…