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EGP welcomes suspension of construction of Rospuda Valley Motorway

European Greens welcome Polish Government’s decision to suspend construction of Rospuda Valley motorway.

The spokespersons of the European Green Party today welcomed the Polish government’s announcement that it will not go ahead with work on the so-called Via Baltica motorway in the environmentally sensitive Rospuda Valley, due to start on Wednesday 1^st August.

EGP Co-Spokesperson Philippe Lamberts said: “We are very pleased that the Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has at last bowed to international and domestic pressure and decided to suspend work on the section of the Via Baltica Motorway which passes through the Rospuda Valley. The Polish government has been forced to climb down, not only by the European Commission’s application for an injunction from the European Court of Justice to stop the work, but also by the extremely effective and imaginative campaign which environmentalists ,including the EGP’s member party in Poland, Zieloni 2004, have been engaged in for the past few months. Zieloni 2004 joined forces with several environmental organisations including Greenpeace,WWF, the Polish Academy of Science and even the Board of Advisers to the Ministry of the Environment to form the umbrella group “In Defence of the Valley” and they have held many protests, in the Rospuda Valley, and in towns and cities throughout Poland. It is worth pointing out that protesters prevented work beginning on the Rospuda section of the road in January and had they not done so, then great environmental damage would already have been caused. Everyone in Europe who cares about protecting our natural heritage owes a huge debt of gratitude to those environmental activists.”

EGP Co-Spokesperson Ulrike Lunacek continued: “While we welcome today’s decision, we realise that it is only a temporary reprieve. That is why it is extremely important that the European Court of Justice acts quickly to give a final verdict on this case. The Rospuda Valley is protected under the EU’s Natura 2000 network of conservation sites and is also covered by the Wild Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. It is one of Europe’s most important wetland habitats and the building of this section of the road threatens the existence of several endangered species that live in the valley. This means that the ECJ must deliver a final judgement in this case which protects the area from any environmentally destructive construction work, in accordance with its Natura 2000 status. Alternative routes which would cause much less environmental damage do exist and the Polish government should use one of these, rather than contravening EU environmental legislation. The best solution for the region’s transport problems would be to invest money in improving international railway connections, which are grossly inadequate at the moment. A “RAIL BALTICA” project would help to reduce traffic on Europe’s already congested motorways. We hope that today’s decision means that the Polish government will respect EU environmental legislation and accept its responsibility to protect a unique site of natural and scientific interest. If they do not do so, and announce at some stage in the future that they will resume work on the Rospuda section of the road, then the EU must take the strongest possible measures to protect not only the valley, but also the very credibility of EU environmental legislation.”

Graham Burgess
Communications Officer
European Green Party
email: graham.burgess@europeangreens.org
Tel no: +32 2 626 0724
Mobile no: +32 477 902 023