Court gives green light to Dresden bridge
German authorities who are determined to build a bridge near the city of Dresden, despite opposition from UNESCO, won a court victory with the cancelling of an injunction against the project.
14 November 2007
Berlin (dpa) - German authorities who are determined to build a bridge near the city of Dresden, despite opposition from UNESCO, won a court victory Wednesday, with judges cancelling the last remaining injunction against the project.
In June, the UN cultural body gave Germany an October 1 deadline to alter the design of a "heavy" four-lane bridge which is planned to cross the Elbe River four kilometres east of the city centre.
The arch of the Waldschloesschen Bridge would mar the park-like, 20-kilometre-long Elbe Valley, a world heritage site, UNESCO said.
The Elbe Valley, an ensemble of country palaces, gardens, vineyards and meadows including inner-city Dresden, is on UNESCO's Red List of endangered world heritage sites. The ultimate punishment would be for UNESCO to cancel the heritage status awarded in 2004.
Three conservation groups have blocked the project by arguing that the bridge would endanger Rhinolophus hipposideros bats.
On Wednesday, the state of Saxony administrative tribunal in the city of Bautzen overturned an August temporary injunction by Dresden judges, saying the bridge would not kill any bats.
The judges, who will hear full-scale legal argument on the case later, said they would not hold up construction in the meantime and might instead impose a speed limit on summer nights when the bats chase insects.
The state of Saxony has ignored the UNESCO deadline, saying it must end long traffic detours in the growing city. Two thirds of city voters support the bridge. Despite criticism by the federal government, the state has awarded the construction contracts.
UNESCO has only stripped one other heritage site of its status. It took away the title this year from a nature reserve in Oman.
The UN body's suggestion of a tunnel under the Elbe instead of a bridge was rejected because of the cost and because pedestrians and cyclists feel unsafe in exhaust-filled tunnels.
Subject: German news