Representatives of the European Commission and the Czech Ministry of Transport will meet today to decide whether the EU will provide EUR 60 million from its ISPA fund for the construction of the section of the D8 motorway (Prague-Dresden) across the Eastern Krusne Hory in the Czech Republic.
A further EUR 400 million may come in the form of a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB); the Bank will make its decision on the project in February. A 16,2 km long section of the motorway will pass through the valuable nature area, cutting in half a proposed Natura 2000 site. Friends of the Earth and the CEE Bankwatch Network have been calling on the Commission and the EIB not to support this badly designed project.
The motorway has been built in a highly questionable manner, say the three organisations. The Czech government built the non-controversial sections first, thus increasing pressure to issue construction permits for the ‘missing links’, which just happened to be in valuable natural and landscape sites. One glaring characteristic of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the D8 project was the exclusion of alternatives from the very beginning. Completely ignored were options with reasonably long tunnels, options bypassing the most valuable nature sites, and any serious mitigation measures. When the strategic EIA (SEA) for the entire Motorway Development Scheme came out in favour of alternatives, the government simply ignored the report’s recommendations.
The Eastern Krusne Hory section of the D8 will, with the exception of two short tunnels, bisect possible SPA and SAC sites (habitats of species protected by the EC Birds and Habitat Directives) which are proposed to become part of the Natura 2000 network of nature sites of European importance. “Since the EIB is reluctant to discuss any individual project with civil organizations – says Magda Stoczkiewicz CEE Bankwatch and FoE Europe Accession coordinator – we are calling on the European Commission to use its funding power to say no to such a procedurally and environmentally deficient project.”
If the EU approves funding for the Eastern Krusne Hory section, the Czech Republic might end up paying twice. First, the country will lose an outstanding natural area, and second, it may end up paying expensive financial penalties for the harm brought to the Natura 2000 site.
Pavel Pribyl from Friends of the Earth Czech Republic and CEE Bankwatch Network comments on the situation: “If the EU rejects the Czech government’s request for funding of the Eastern Krusne Hory motorway section, it would not only help the environment, but also stimulate improvement of the political culture in the Czech republic. The authorities would receive a clear message that such a procedurally defficient project can not count on EU funds. It is clear that in the situation like this the Commission’s reputation is at stake. The decision taken about D8 will prove, whether the protection of the environment is really one of the EU’s priorities, or it is rather an empty slogan.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Pavel Pribyl, FoE CZ, CEE Bankwatch Network CZ, + 420 603 207 249, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vojtech Kotecky, FoE CZ, + 420 604 202 470 email@example.com
Magda Stoczkiewicz, FoE Europe, CE
FoE Czech Republic, FoE Europe, CEE Bankwatch Network