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Environmental Organizations Appeal against Elbe Deepening Plan

German environmental organizations BUND, NABU and WWF have lodged a legal appeal against the Elbe deepening plan, shortly after all lawsuits against the project were completed.

However, the appeal is not expected to freeze the project which has received the “all clear” to start. As explained by NABU’s Alexander Porschke, halting of the process is not being pursued as there is little likelihood the court would agree to it.

Previous court rulings on claims regarding noise pollution, erosion fears as well as environmental concerns have been made in favour of the dredging plan, with the court giving priority to the “public interest stemming from the deepened Elbe waterway.”

Last year, the country’s Federal Administrative Court approved in principle the plan stating that it needed to be revised due to “the violation of the habitat protection law.”

The planning procedure for fairway adjustment on the outer and lower Elbe has now been completed with the supplementary planning approval being granted in August. Hence, the legal preliminaries are now in place that will enable the construction to start, making way for more megaships to come to Hamburg port.

Around 130 kilometers of the river is planned to be dredged, enabling boxships with a 14.5-meter drought to reach the port, against 13.5 meters at present.

The tender procedure is expected to start shortly, with the dredging itself estimated to be launched in March 2019.

Nevertheless, BUND, NABU and WWF believe the project still doesn’t meet the legal requirements on nature conservation.

According to Manfred Braasch from BUND Hamburg, the Elbe deepening isn’t ecologically or economically justifiable. Braach said that the ecological consequences of the project are underestimated, adding that the cost, which is approaching EUR 1 billion (currently standing at around EUR 700 million) is too high considering the alternatives in the form of cooperation between North German ports.

In addition, the organizations said they plan to seek damages from the competent authorities for the environmental consequences from the previous dredging project carried out in 1999.

The application will be launched in October 2018, NABU informed.

World Maritime News Staff