Is the weir on the Elbe at Decin in the public interest? Illegal government involvement in the decision making of the authorities

23.1.2019 - DECIN
The sediment loads of the Elbe are most valuable in terms of the occurrence of protected species
Petr Zewlakk Vrabec

The government of Andrej Babiš (ANO party) wants to build a weir on the Elbe at any price. Last year, Babiš declared the weir as being in the public interest in his resolution. An unnecessary construction that will destroy the valuable natural environment of the Elbe Valley and will cost at least 5 billion crowns has been assessed by the government instead by construction authorities and nature conservation authorities despite protests by experts. The Minister of the Environment, Richard Brabec, has newly joined them. According to the Czech Union for Nature Conservation, Teplice-FERGUNNA and Arnika, it is not part of the responsibility of the government to evaluate whether particular building plans are more important than the protection of nature. Therefore, they have asked the court to cancel the government resolution.

"The government resolution about the construction of the weir as being in the public interest should become a binding basis for decision making by the building authorities and nature conservation authorities. They will have to follow it in a similar way to the spatial plan. The government has unlawfully announced a specific intention to build," points out lawyer Petr Svoboda.

"The Bohemian Switzerland National Park made a stand against the weir at Decin, followed by the Ministry of the Environment and a number of experts. Still, the government wants to decide the construction of the weir and circumvent the valid legislation. In court we want to prove that the government has no right to intervene in the decision making of the authorities, to interfere in democratic processes, and, last but not least, to take chances with the taxpayers' money," explains Jiří Rous from Teplice-FERGUNNA.

The water level of the Elbe has been extremely low for the last five years as a result of drought and has paralysed shipping for most of the year on both the Czech and German sides. The Minister of Transport, Dan Ťok, who has recently joined the discussion, has proposed to abolish the European protection of nature in the Elbe Valley and to start building. However, the planned weir on the Elbe at Decin will not secure the navigability of the river and the result will be an unnecessary construction costing more than 5 billion crowns and the destruction of a valuable natural environment.

"The government is trying to create the impression that the German side also desires the weir. The truth is that Germany completely rejects the construction of other weirs or navigation stages for ecological and economic reasons. It is already quite clear now that even after the construction of the weir, which will destroy rare natural treasures, the big boats will not be able to sail on the Elbe," concludes Nikol Krejčová from Arnika.

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