French climate talks chef fined for environmental crimes

French climate talks chef fined for environmental crimes

ANNECY – Agence France-Presse
French climate talks chef fined for environmental crimes

French chef Marc Veyrat waits in the courtroom of the Annecy courthouse, on November 27, 2015. Annecy's criminal court summoned Veyrat to appear for "several environmental violations" in Manigod where he owns a restaurant and a familial estate. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT

Michelin-starred French chef Marc Veyrat, chosen to cook for world leaders at the U.N. climate talks in Paris, was on Dec. 18 served a 100,000-euro fine for destroying the forest around his Alpine restaurant.

Veyrat, who has received six Michelin stars in his career, was one of five top chefs at the COP21 meeting this month where leaders from across the globe sealed a deal to fight climate change.

He has been found guilty of environmental crimes after clearing 7,000 square meters of protected forest in the mountainous Haute-Savoie region, to build a botanical garden, beehives and greenhouses next to his pricy restaurant La Maison des Bois.

The chef argued that he had good intentions and had created an educational site for children, but did not ask for authorization or get a building permit, according to the prosecution.

The building led to the destruction of “7,000 m2 of forest and the drying up of a wetland of nearly one hectare”, according to the charges against him.

A French court ordered him to restore the wetlands within three months or face a fine of 3,000 euros ($3,200) every day past the deadline.

Veyrat was however found not guilty of a separate charge of contravening town planning laws.

“That allows Mr. Veyrat to keep his educational park for children with the botanical garden, greenhouses and apiary,” said the chef’s lawyer Nicolas Ballaloud.