Think global, act local.
During August 2013 one of our employees visited some of the troublespots on the TEN-T Corridors. We Greens/EFA want to integrate local greens and citizens Initiatives fighting against certain projects into the TEN-T/CEF process on the european level. Therefore the idea was born to visit our identified Trouble Spots and discuss with the local citizens about their problems. We want to establish a network where local greens as well as NGOs and citizens initiatives can exchange their views and work together on the TEN-T projects. By the way, he did the whole trip, environmentalfriendly as we Greens/EFA are, by train!
After the decision was made, our employe( let´s call him René) prepared his journey and started on the 3rd of July.
First Stop- South Tyrol
Starting in South Tyrol (Italy) René visited the local Greens, explained them our project and went together with former MEP Sepp Kusstatscher on a short excursion into the hearth of the Brenner Base Tunnel. Under the Guidance of Martin Ausserdorfer, the chair of the Observatory for the Environment and Safety in the Workplace of the Brenner Base Tunnel, René and Sepp got an excellent view of the explanatory tunnel and also some answers to their question.
From South Tyrol to Turin
After leaving South Tyrol René went to meet Paolo Prieri and the members of the alliance against the Lyon-Turin Base tunnel called “Presidio Europa”. Paolo drove René to several important places around the planned construction side. Starting from the retirement home which has to move once the Tunnel is beeing constructed, to a lookout from which you can see directly on the heavily guarded construction side of the explanatory tunnel and also to the guarded entrance to the road going to the construction side. Apart from friendly activists René also witnessed heavy security presence on the construction site, also the italian military was involved. After a nice evening dinner with the activists René headed to Madrid.
The Spanish part of the Core Network Corridors
In Madrid René organized a meeting with Mariano Gonzales from “Ecologistas en Acción” a Spanish NGO- grassroot movement, the governing body of many small activist groups. Ecologistas en Acción also works on transport related issues and thus they discussed about the proposals for the Spanish part of the Core Network Corridors. The main problem, so Mariano says, is that there´s not enough money to build all these new lines. There maybe co-financing from the EU but Spain itself can´t finance the projects anymore. That´s also a problem with cross-border railway projects in Portugal and France. The projects are already built on one side of the border, but end there because of a lack of money at the other side.
From Spain to Germany
The next stop on the map was Walsrode in Germany near the so called Y-Line. According to the commissions proposal and the german “Bundesverkehrswegeplan” a new Line between Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover should be established. In Walsrode the railwaytracks between these three cities would get together forming the shape of an “Y”. René met different citizens initiatives on their regulary assembly and discussed with them about the future of the TEN-T/CEF regulations and their impact on the construction of the Y-line. He also managed to take part in a conference of the local greens which also a member of the German Bundestag Sven-Christian Kindler attended.
Dredging the Elbe river or fostering better port cooperation?
After leaving Walsrode René headed to Hamburg where he met Malte Siegert advisor for enviromental policy at NABU. Malte explained the problems with the planned deepening of the river Elbe which would cause a natural disaster and would also establish yearly costs because of the returning river sediments. Also the local greens mentioned their concerns about this project and discussed with René about the port strategy of the region.
Fixing the Fehmarn Belt? No good idea!
From Hamburg it´s a two hours traintrip to the island of Fehmarn. Here the planned construction of a big tunnel threatens the environment and the flourishing tourism as well. René had a meeting on a ferry with the local greens, the citizens initiative against the Fixed Fehmarn Belt and the ferry line operator. On board they discussed about the different problems the construction of the tunnel would generate and alternative solutions like the developement of zero emission ferries. After brainstorming about different ways of how to stop the construction of the tunnel, René went on the last trip of his journey, next direction, Warsaw.
Last Stop - Warsaw
After staring at the impressive Cultural Palace of Warsaw in front of the central station, René went to meet Eva-Maria Sufin(director of the Polish Green Foundation) from the Polish greens who showed him around and took him to several meetings with NGOs, journalists, citizens Initiatives and the Polish greens of course. Poland has a lot of environmental problems concerning transport infrastructure. In Warsaw for example a citizens initiative is fighting against the construction of a new motorway which would directly cross the city. This motorway is planned to connect one of the major transit routes through Poland, this would mean a lot of traffic and burdens (noise/air quality) for the local citizens.
This is not the end
The journey helped to interlink local greens, citizens, transport expert and NGOs with the Greens/EFA. We managed to establish a lot of contacts on the Core Network Corridors with whom we are looking forward to cooperate. More and detailed reports about the visit will follow and we try to implement every information we got from the citizens and NGOs. Input from the citizens living nearby such questionable transport infrastructure projects is very valuable and helps us to understand things better. If you live nearby or if you are anyhow affected by such an transport infrastructure project belonging to the TEN-T, please let us know, we are eager to listen and to help!