Environmental policy: New round in the conflict over Elbschlick disposal

Dealing with the Elbe silt contains further sources of conflict in northern Germany.

Environmental policy: New round in the conflict over Elbschlick disposal

Dealing with the Elbe silt contains further sources of conflict in northern Germany. This Friday, the joint parliamentary committee for cooperation between Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg in the Hanseatic city will deal with the "current status of sediment management in the Elbe". When asked by the German Press Agency, Kiel Environment Minister Tobias Goldschmidt referred to an agreement that both states, Lower Saxony and the federal government had concluded before Christmas. This agreement contains two clear agreements that oppose a silt dump in the outer Elbe near the bird protection island of Scharhörn, said the Green politician.

After the agreement, Hamburg's Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) made a new attempt to dump the silt near Scharhörn and thus reaped clear opposition from Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. The agreement provides for the silt to be brought to the navigation mark buoy E3 near Heligoland. Nevertheless, Tschentscher later brought Scharhörn back into play. Schleswig-Holstein's Prime Minister Daniel Günther (CDU) rejected this, as did Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Christian Meyer and Hamburg's Environment Senator Jens Kerstan (both Greens). Scharhorn was off the table, said Günther.

"On the one hand, the text rules out a short-term dumping at Scharhörn," explained Goldschmidt. On the other hand, it contains the clear commitment to develop a solution for the E3 buoy beyond the summer of 2023. "It takes a lot of imagination to derive perspectives for further silt in the Outer Elbe," said Goldschmidt. "I'm glad that the colleagues from Lower Saxony and the Hamburg Senator for the Environment also see it that way - that's a solid basis for the upcoming talks."

What exactly does the agreement reached before Christmas say? It says literally: "If there is an official permit from Schleswig-Holstein in January 2023, Hamburg will ship the planned discharge for the Hamburg Outer Elbe to barrel E3 and thus refrain from shipment to the Hamburg Outer Elbe until Q3 (meaning the third quarter) of 2023 ". This refers to Scharhorn.

The wording of the agreement is available to the German Press Agency. It also says: "Based on previous practice, a long-term connection solution at the proven delivery point E3 is currently being prepared for 2023. As agreed, Hamburg will submit an application in January 2023 for an annual volume of 2 million t of dry matter (TS)". The process should be completed by summer 2023 if possible. For the state government in Kiel, the Scharhörn issue has been resolved with both passages.

Minister Goldschmidt was also irritated that the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency sees no way to speed up the approval procedure for dumping Elbe silt in the exclusive economic zone. If this is the understanding of the Federal Ministry of Transport, led by Volker Wissing (FDP), for planning and approval acceleration, this explains the condition of many transport infrastructures in Germany. "The Port of Hamburg and the protection of our marine environment deserve something other than hesitation and hesitation," said Goldschmidt. "I also expect the federal government to stick to the agreements that have been made."

Hamburg's Mayor Tschentscher recently pointed out several times that the Hamburg Port Authority's application for the dumping of Elbe silt far out in the North Sea had been available since last summer.

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