“Anachronistic” rebuild of Notre Dame angers environmental group

The Notre Dame Cathedral fire in 2019. Image: Alexander Perrien Canva CC0
The Notre Dame Cathedral fire in 2019. Image: Alexander Perrien Canva CC0

French environmental group Robin des Bois disagrees with the current reconstruction plans for the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Workers use wood and lead in rebuilding the church’s roof framework and spire in its original state. Robin des Bois argues the approach is polluting and does not guarantee the safety of the building in the future.

After the fire, the area surrounding the cathedral became highly lead-polluted. Meanwhile, authorities will cut 2000 ancient oak trees for the restoration. Jacky Bonnemains, director of Robin des Bois, called the decision to rebuild the Notre Dame with authentic wood and lead “anachronistic”, reported international media platform Deutsche Welle (DW).

Ideal material

Bonnemains regards the original building materials as outdated and dangerous. He thinks the duo “made the fire possible and caused considerable lead pollution.” Modern materials, such as concrete, would be much safer, he added. “Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Cathedral in Nantes for example has a roof framework made of concrete. A fire there last year only caused very limited damage.”

The wood and lead structure wasn’t the problem — the fire took hold due to human error.

A Notre Dame spokesperson told DW that concrete is not a suitable building material for the reconstruction. The roof structure needs a precise weight to stabilise the building. Therefore, wood and lead are an ideal choice. “And the wood and lead structure wasn’t the problem. The fire took hold due to human error”, the spokesperson added. (Text continues below image)

The concrete roof framework construction of the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Cathedral in Nantes, is not an option for its counterpart in Paris. Image: dennisvdw (Canva) CC0


Apart from potentially dangerous building materials, Robin des Bois is concerned about the consequences of cutting down 2000 ancient trees. “We are amputating the forests and wresting oaks from them, which are crucial for our woods’ regeneration, as they are a habitat for many insects and birds”, Bonnemains stated. 

The ONF, a public agency that manages French forests, pointed out that they would chop down the centuries-old trees anyway. “We regularly fell huge, old trees — to provide the market with timber but also to make space for younger trees, which need a lot of light”, a spokesperson explained to DW.

Since the reconstruction of the Notre Dame should be finished by 2024, Robin des Bois believes they have enough time to challenge the current plans. Whether they can stop the rebuilt with authentic materials remains to be seen. In February 2021, ABC News reported on the progress of the reconstruction works. You can check out the video below.

Source: Deutsche Welle

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