Bonn, 19 January 2023. In a total of three decisions, Frankfurt a. M. Administrative Court and the Hessian Administrative Court dismissed injunctive petitions against the closure of Fechenheimer Forest to public traffic and the execution of timber‑clearing work in Fechenheimer Forest. Acting as counsel in the proceedings for the federal motorway company – the project developer – was Redeker Sellner Dahs.
Timber‑clearing work began today in Fechenheim forest in Frankfurt, paving the way for construction of the A66 motorway tunnel (Riederwald tunnel). The police have started moving out activists occupying the forest with a large police task force. The motorway project was approved some time ago, but closure of the gap in the A 66 in Frankfurt, which is a crucial and long‑awaited element in national transport route planning, is still a controversial political issue. Numerous activists have thus been occupying areas of the Fechenheim Forest for over a year, seeking to prevent execution of the project. The planning approval has been repeatedly upheld as lawful in years of court proceedings ranging all the way up to the Federal Administrative Court.
In two injunctive petitions, firstly an environmental association and secondly an activist tried to prevent commencement of the timber‑clearing work at the last minute. First of all, it was argued that the project was not compatible with protection of the Great Oakbuck (Herobuck) under species protection law, which meant that the existing planning approval had to be amended once again (environmental association). Secondly, a resident of a tree house in the forest claimed that the ordered closure of the forest violated his fundamental rights to inviolability of the home (Article 13 of the Basic Law) in the tree houses, his right of assembly (Article 8 of the Basic Law – freedom of demonstration) and his right of ownership (Article 14 of the Basic Law) extending to inter alia the furniture in the tree houses.
Frankfurt Administrative Court (10 L 90/23.F) and Hessian Administrative Court (2 B 48/23.T) rejected the petitions for injunctive legal protection. An appeal was also unsuccessful (HessVGH 4 B 72/23). The motorway company was party to one of the proceedings (Umweltverband vs. Hesse) and one of the defendants to the other (closure of the forest).
In the words of Dr. Tobias Masing: “It is becoming increasingly difficult for project developers to actually implement even legally permanent‑and‑binding and court‑upheld approvals of infrastructure projects. It is positive that the legality of the clearing and closure of the forest have now been upheld by the courts. This means that implementation of the democratically legitimised project can now be executed with legal certainty. This shows that with carefully crafted moves justifying the measures, addressing species protection law or enforcement, the risk of projects being delayed at the last minute by new procedural obstacles is reduced. This is an important and the correct signal to send out to other controversial, high‑profile projects as well.”