| Focus 2/3 | Mountain law : how to reconcile exceptional nature and human activity ?

New tourist units (UTN)


Figure 1. Ski lift in Gresse-en-Vercors (Isère, France). [Source: By Guy ROUSSEL, who entrusted Markus3 (Marc ROUSSEL) with his original photo for possible digital processing and deposit on Commons. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons]
The UTN is an emblematic procedure for the implementation of the most important tourist projects in the mountains. It also makes it possible to derogate from the principle of building in continuity with existing urbanization.

What is it? This refers to any tourism development operation carried out in mountain areas and contributing to the socio-economic performance of the mountain area[1]. The law of 28 December 2016 classifies UTN projects into two main categories: “structuring” (UTNS) or “local” (UTNL) UTNs. Decree No. 2017-1039 of 10 May 2017 divided these two categories according to the nature of the operations or according to thresholds: creation of ski lifts (Figure 1), new ski areas, links between ski areas, construction operations for tourist accommodation (Figure 2), golf courses, campsites, motorised leisure areas, work to develop alpine ski slopes in green areas, refuges, etc.[2].

Figure 2. Lifts, slopes and tourist real estate. [Source: Pixabay, Royalty-free.]
Their creation is the responsibility of either local urban planning documents (UTNS by territorial coherence schemes, UTNL by local urban planning plans) or, in their absence, the State (a decree of the prefect). Once authorized or planned, municipalities or inter-municipalities may issue or request the issuance to the State of the authorizations required under various parallel legislations: deforestation, construction or development, installation of ski lifts, runway construction or water withdrawal[3].


References and notes

Cover image. Lifts, slopes and tourist real estate. [Source: Pixabay, Royalty-free]

[1] Art. L. 122-16 of the Town Planning Code.

[2] For details of the projects referred to in Articles R. 122-8 and R. 122-9 of the Town Planning Code.

[3] To go further; J.-F. JOYE, L’Unité Touristique Nouvelle : mode d’emploi d’une espèce juridique endémique, Construction-Urbanisme, 2017, Etude, n° 7-8 2017, pp. 13-18.