04 May 2023, 12:05
Julian Wettengel

NGOs criticise government decision to speed up motorway upgrades

Tagesspiegel Background / Clean Energy Wire

Environmental NGOs have criticised the government's decision to accelerate the planning and construction of motorway upgrades and demand that all projects undergo an assessment of their climate impact, reports Tagesspiegel Background. Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) transport officer Jens Hilgenberg said “extremely short deadlines” meant that the consequences for both the climate and nature would be “concealed”. The cabinet decided on 3 May to designate certain motorway – and also rail expansion – projects as “of overriding public interest”, which leads to priority treatment by authorities and courts and largely overrules nature conservation in the event of conflict, writes Tagesspiegel. However, train industry association VDB welcomed the decision. “The Acceleration Act is an important first step towards speeding up the modernisation and expansion of the railways by streamlining processes,” said managing director Sarah Stark.

The government coalition overcame a month-long dispute in March with a deal on comprehensive reforms in climate and environmental protection, the acceleration of major infrastructure projects, and billions for the modernisation of Germany's ailing rail network. Stakeholders such as the student climate activist group Fridays for Future heavily criticised the agreement as a “failure by ‘climate chancellor’ Scholz” – especially the decision to speed up certain motorway projects and to reform the climate action law.

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