Construction workers were today (August 1) due to resume work on the Via Baltica highway through the ancient Rospuda Valley but have been ordered to stop by Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski under pressure from the European Commission.
The Commission asked the European Court of Justice to issue a temporary injunction preventing work in the valley, forcing the Polish government to back down before the court hears the case.
The Rospuda Valley, close to the Lithuanian border in north-east Poland, hosts a treasure trove of wildlife, including lynx, otters and wolves. More than 20 rare or threatened bird species breed within 750 metres of the route the Polish government wants the road to take.
Dr Helen Byron, International Officer at the RSPB, said: “It is impossible to stress just how precious the Rospuda Valley is. Species that are already gone or just hanging on in the UK are thriving in the valley.
“There is an alternative to the Rospuda Valley route which should now be considered because it would cause far less environmental damage but still by-pass the towns currently blighted by heavy traffic.
“If the valley is eventually bulldozed, a devastating precedent will be set. Other irreplaceable sites threatened by the Via Baltica will be in the firing line while other countries that increasingly see protected sites as obstacles to development will be encouraged to test Europe’s legal resolve in the same way.”
Land has already been cleared either side of the Rospuda Valley, a jewel in the crown of Europe’s protected sites. White tailed and lesser-spotted eagles soar above its wetlands, which attract otters, beavers and cranes, while its primeval forests - woodlands that have barely been touched - host black grouse, wild boar and the shy and elusive lynx.
Elk and beavers are common in the valley where 20 orchid species are found. Dr Byron said: “It would be difficult to find a better site for wildlife in Europe yet Poland was hours away from felling trees in the Rospuda and sticking two fingers up at European law.”
The 277-mile Via Baltica will run from Warsaw to Helsinki passing through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
An environmental assessment for the Polish section of the road is still underway but the government had pushed ahead with the Rospuda Valley route because it took traffic away from the town of Augustow, which is south of the valley. The shorter alternative would do that too and could be funded by the EU, unlike the Valley proposal.
The terrain of the valley means a 500-metre viaduct would be built on stilts planted in concrete sunk deep into rare and unspoilt peat bogs in the Rospuda River flood plain.
The Rospuda Valley is part of the EU’s network of sites called Natura 2000 and has been legally protected since Poland joined the EU in 2004. The halting of work today will allow the Polish government to explain its plans to the European Commission.
Alistair Gammell, the RSPB’s International Director, said: “Poland joined the European Union for its economic benefits but with that comes the requirement to comply with the law. The Rospuda Valley is a very special place with many rare species that need protection. Poland should choose a less damaging route for this road.”
Izabela Flor, Director of the Polish Bird Protection Society, OTOP, said: “This case has developed into a real test case for the enforcement of European legislation in Poland. Poland receives significant funding from the EU, and must fulfil its duties as a member state to protect its unique European natural heritage.”
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy