Waldschlosschenbrucke and co. – small animals really big

The little horseshoe bat was probably only known to the proven bat expert before the Waldschlosschenbrucke. The construction of the Elbe crossing made them big. Now the case is back in court. But it is not the only animal with the potential to stop construction.

Cars are still rolling over the Waldschlosschenbrucke. But will they also be allowed to do so in the future? And whether the bridge will stop at all? The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig will now probably decide on Friday after it postponed the judgment expected for today. It’s about a tiny animal that can ultimately become the undoing of the great bridge – big ears, crooked noses, a strange name.

The lesser horseshoe bat, an endangered species of bat, made its big appearance during the construction work from 2007 to 2013. It initially caused construction delays, then special protective requirements and additional costs. And last but not least, for a lawsuit. The nature conservation association Grune Liga Sachsen sued the planning approval decision for the bridge, among other things because of violations of nature conservation law.

Word of power from the ECJ

The Federal Administrative Court took its time with the decision. First of all, the Court of Justice of the European Union should provide legal assistance and bring some clarity to the Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive (FFH). He spoke a word of power: When making a decision, the Federal Administrative Court must take into account the FHH, a European nature conservation directive that identifies protected areas and species that are particularly worthy of protection and serves to protect biological diversity. And which has already driven many builders to despair.

Hamster gnaws at industrial park

Because the little horseshoe bat is not the only fear of building owners. Nationwide, the guideline identifies around 300 so-called "planning-relevant species" whose interests must be taken into account in building projects. For example, in the cross-border German-Dutch business park Avantis near Aachen (Germany) and Heerlen (Netherlands) planned at the end of the 1990s. The Korenwolf (Dutch), which is actually not a wolf at all, but an endangered hamster (German), originally had its breeding grounds and resting places where the logistics and administrative centers of various companies are now located.

The little rodent became a political issue: the EU Commission reprimanded the Federal Republic of Germany for violating the FFH. Eventually, the case was closed. But the park’s reputation was damaged.

Opponents of the train station celebrate beetles

In addition to various critics on two legs, there were also opponents from flora and fauna in the large-scale construction project "Stuttgart 21". Trees stood in the way of the multi-billion dollar train station project, which every landscape gardener has to cut down on a daily basis. But if the thumb-sized Russian beetle lives in it, nothing will come of it. That is because it is under species protection, likes it quiet and withdrawn and must therefore not be touched. Result: construction freeze. Ultimately, the beetles and the trees were allowed to stay – construction is going on around them.

Crested newt against motorway

Sometimes even kilometers of highways lose out to an animal that is just under 15 centimeters tall. Combed pigs prevented the completion of a section of the A44 near Hessisch-Lichtenau. Instead of two separate tunnels, a contiguous one is now being built so as not to disturb the animals – the cost of the construction section increased by 50 million euros.

The Waldschlosschenbrucke was also more expensive at the time. The protective corridors around it cost more than 200,000 euros. The Little Horseshoe Bat has not been seen there since the bridge was completed in 2013. Nevertheless, in the worst case, the Leipzig judges could force another trial. And if in doubt, this could mean that the bridge would have to be closed to motorized traffic.

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