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Buying your freedom from nature conservation? What the "paradigm shift" of the traffic light means

In just five minutes and with just three topics, Christian Lindner managed to drive conservationists crazy.

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Buying your freedom from nature conservation? What the "paradigm shift" of the traffic light means

In just five minutes and with just three topics, Christian Lindner managed to drive conservationists crazy. When the FDP leader summed up the coalition marathon on Tuesday evening, he first mentioned the easing of climate protection requirements for the transport sector. Then he increased the intensity of the demands made on the Greens by announcing that 144 motorway projects should benefit from additional planning acceleration. But the highlight was the third point.

"In the future," said Lindner, "it will be possible to compensate for the use of nature in construction projects not through ecological compensation areas, but "also through a monetary payment". This "paradigm shift" also contributes "to the fact that much more can happen in Germany, from rail to renewable energies, production sites to road construction". The excitement was great: "No more compensation areas, buy free instead?" Was asked on Twitter. More highways and just money for that?

"It's not in the paper," said Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens). And he was right insofar as the coalition decision in this regard is much more complex than Lindner portrayed it. The Greens don't like the motorway expansion at all. But the compensation rules accommodate them - and are likely to cause conflicts both at traffic lights and with farmers.

The previous practice of compensatory areas, which usually have to be created on a small scale in the vicinity of sealed soil due to settlement or infrastructure expansion, has been criticized by environmental organizations for years. On the one hand, it is becoming difficult to find areas in densely populated regions where, for example, frogs feel as comfortable as they did in the ponds destroyed by a motorway. On the other hand, regional surveys have shown that many compensation areas are largely worthless due to inadequate planning or a lack of maintenance.

This was also noted in January by the presidents of large environmental organizations such as the WWF, Greenpeace and the Federal Government for the Protection of the Environment and Nature (BUND). "The poor ecological condition of many habitats and populations makes it clear that the previous regulation was not sufficient," they wrote in a joint position paper. The "increasing competition for land" ensures "increasing challenges in the planning and implementation of compensation measures".

As an extension of the previous system, the heads of the associations proposed designating large, contiguous areas where wild animals roam without road interruptions, many different plant species can spread or drained moors can be extensively wetted for climate protection reasons.

This concept, for which the Greens also advocated at their parliamentary group meeting last week, has found its way into the coalition resolution: “In order to secure sufficient and networked areas for renaturation and nature conservation in terms of spatial planning, the possibility should be created of creating a coherent, cross-state To define the biotope network as a priority area," says the traffic light paper.

Cash payments to compensate for soil sealing can be important here. Because the money can be used to buy areas that are needed in designated nature conservation priority areas for the creation of a coherent biotope network. From the point of view of the Greens, at least, the coalition decision can be of much greater advantage to them than Lindner made it appear on Tuesday evening.

In any case, if the following order is followed: First, the nature conservation and area laws are changed with state pre-emption rights for the creation of those large areas - which largely falls within the area of ​​responsibility of Environment Minister Lemke - and then the monetary payments mentioned can be made easier to do all this finance.

Jan-Niclas Gesenhues, environmental policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag, strictly insists on this order: "I am only willing to talk about changes to the compensation scheme if there really is a binding and good area requirement law for biodiversity," said Gesenhues WELT. In the law, "priority areas for biodiversity should be identified and the biotope network strengthened," he demands and has high hopes for himself: "Legally anchored, nationwide priority areas for nature conservation and renaturation - that would indeed be a very important step for nature conservation."

The German Farmers' Association also suspects that the Greens may have made a point at this point in the coalition decision. But in a negative sense: "A sell-off of agricultural land and further loss of land" is to be feared, said Association President Joachim Rukwied. Agricultural land could be lost if "compensation payments can be used for privileged land acquisition".

On the other hand, it would be more difficult for the Greens to take away Lindner's satisfaction with the second point of his coalition committee balance sheet, namely with the additional planning acceleration for 144 road expansion projects. Here, the hopes of the Greens rest solely on the wording of the resolution that this acceleration should take place "in agreement with the country concerned".

After long negotiations, the traffic light agrees on a package of measures. Among other things, 144 motorway projects are to be implemented at an accelerated pace. "The whole package is not to be evaluated as a climate protection package," comments climate activist Carla Reemtsma.

Source: WORLD / Lena Moselle

The Greens right-wing politician Lukas Benner sees a possibility that Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) could have to do with state governments who would rather carry out expansion projects according to the existing rules. "In the case of the motorway, the acceleration only includes a limited number of individual expansion projects to eliminate bottlenecks, which also have to be negotiated with the federal states," said Benner WELT, pointing out that that option is not planned for other projects.

"In the case of rail, on the other hand, the so-called 'overriding public interest' applies across the board to all projects in urgent need." The Greens have also done more to speed up the planning of renewable energies than Wissing did in expanding motorways to six, eight or ten lanes.

However, the FDP is already considering using the state reservation to accelerate planning for the motorway expansion in such a way that it could become a reproach to the Greens. Where the FDP is represented in state parliaments, they will apply to support the planning acceleration for the projects there. If this is rejected, the citizens would know, one hopes in the federal party, who is responsible for the fact that they are stuck in traffic.

"Change of power" is the WELT podcast with Dagmar Rosenfeld and Robin Alexander. Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, Google Podcasts or via RSS feed, among others.

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