Court approves fairway adjustments for the Lower and Outer Elbe

“The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig has expressly underlined the necessity for the adjustment of the navigation channel with its decision,” says Jens Meier CEO of Hamburg Port Authority, commenting on the judgement of the Federal Administrative Court for the fairway adjustment of the Lower and Outer Elbe. “The navigation adjustments will come, now it is a question of extending the process. We will concentrate on the questions of possible fluctuations of the salinity of the Elbe and habitat protection impact assessment. The requirements of the additional compensation areas are to be considered in the planning too,” Meier explains, noting that the project is in full gear, but it is too soon to give a statement on the timeframe required.

In the 9 February judgement, the Federal Administrative Court stated that the whole planning procedure has no deficiencies and the objections from the environmental organisations concerning the water engineering measures cannot be upheld. The European Water Framework Directive has been adhered to; only protection of the plant species, hemlock water dropwort, and the substitute areas must be improved, before the measures can be implemented.

“This makes it clear that the adjustment will happen, but we regret the repeated time delay in implementing the measure. [It is important to note] that [nothing will change regarding] shipping on the Elbe and operations in the Port of Hamburg. Up to now, we have been able to handle the largest containerships; this will be so in the future too. There will be no deterioration,” says Ingo Egloff, joint CEO Port of Hamburg Marketing.

The Port of Hamburg is Germany’s largest universal port, providing more than 156,000 jobs in the greater Hamburg region. The port is also an important industrial location with a gross value-added of 21.8 billion euros for the whole of the German economy. For the city of Hamburg, around 900 million euros in tax revenue is generated in the port.

“This is why it is important that the Federal Administrative Court has decided that the basic necessity for adjusting the fairways on the Elbe is not in doubt. We are confident that the planning authorities will do all that is in their power to reach a timely decision,” says Egloff.

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