Poland’s motorway through peatlands on hold

Plans to build a motorway across one of Europe's last remaining unspoilt peatlands were put on hold until August, as Polish law forbids construction work within the nature reserve during the bird breeding season which started on March 1st.

Campaigners against the motorway packed up the protest camp in the Rospuda Valley, Eastern Poland, after assurances from road-building contractors Budimex that work within the reserve would wait until the end of the breeding season in August.

The controversial plans to pass the Via Baltica through the Rospuda Valley, a nature reserve protected under the EU’s Natura 2000 scheme, have caused protests across Poland and prompted the Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski to announce a local referendum on the matter. Last week protests spread further as Polish workers in Brussels demonstrated outside the Polish embassy in Brussels (see related story).

The EU has been threatening Poland with fines and suspension orders, and the delay will give those opposing the project some breathing space in which to advance their legal case. The Polish

Campaigners from Greenpeace expressed concern at the attitude of Polish authorities, which have so far largely backed the project in its current form and resisted re-routing the motorway around the nature reserve. “It has turned out that this unique place is more protected by EU law than by Polish authorities,” said Maciej Muskat, director of Greenpeace Poland.

Goska Romanowicz

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