- 28. November 2017
Elbe fairway adjustment: lawsuits from Cuxhaven, Otterndorf and fishermen unsuccessfulThe Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig dismissed the lawsuits brought by Cuxhaven and Otterndorf, as well as Elbe and coastal fishermen, against its planning decisions on the adjustment of the fairway in the Lower and Outer Elbe.
In weighing up the concerns affected, the planning authorities accorded priority to the public interest in maintaining and/or improving the Elbe’s functionality as a federal waterway for traffic over the conflicting interests of the objectors.
Being specific regarding both location and situation, the concerns raised by the plaintiffs are only partially worthy of consideration. Moreover, the arguments from the cities of Cuxhaven and Otterndorf based on the repercussions of the project on such municipal facilities as public baths, bathing lakes, marinas, and adjacent mudflats visited by tourists, given the strain already existing, the impact is not so grave that the results of further consideration should necessarily have been otherwise. To the extent that professional fishermen suffer temporary or lasting disadvantage, for instance by the disappearance of traditional fishing grounds, they must accept these on account of the Elbe’s overriding function as a traffic artery. Should the expansion project put livelihoods at risk, the planning decisions provide for compensation.
Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Minister of Economics, Transport & Innovation, commented on the decision by the Federal Administrative Court: ‘Today’s decision by the Federal Administrative Court has brought us a step nearer implementation of the adjustment of the fairway on the Lower & Outer Elbe. I remain very confident of our ability to implement the project in the near future. We have been working since February on meeting the court’s final reservations. The revisions made are flowing into the third stage of the supplementary planning procedure. As matters stand at present, we can assume that an application for planning completion proceedings can be lodged with the planning authorities in January 2018, enabling the corresponding planning completion to be started.’
On 13 December the Federal Administrative Court will be considering the remaining cases brought by four private individuals and water/soil associations. Whereas the private property owners complain of considerable adverse effects caused by noise, vibrations, riverbank erosion and a lighthouse some 70 metres’ high, the associations seek regulations supplementary to the planning decisions in respect of ensuring drainage and irrigation of their areas, and guaranteeing flood protection. With the completion of these court proceedings too, all the pending proceedings on objections to adjustment of the fairway will be closed.