Environment: protest against deforestation for highway expansion

Environment: protest against deforestation for highway expansion

Protest against forest clearing for highway expansion

"Fight for autonomous freedom" stands on a collapsed tree house in the Fechenheim forest.  Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa

“Fight for autonomous freedom” is written on a collapsed tree house in the Fechenheim forest. photo

© Sebastian Gollnow/dpa

In a forest in Frankfurt, environmental activists have been protesting against a planned highway expansion for some time. Now the police have started clearing the area.

For the planned clearing of a piece of forest in Frankfurt police launched a large-scale operation against environmental activists who have occupied the area. The background to the clearance is the planned construction of a tunnel in the Fechenheim forest as part of the expansion of the A66.

A small number of activists remained as of Wednesday afternoon after several people were carried out of the occupied area by officials. Some had hung themselves high in the trees with ropes. The forces brought down several tree houses. So far everything has been going peacefully, the police said. The first trees were already felled on Wednesday parallel to the clearing.

On Tuesday, the Hessian Administrative Court decided that parts of the forest in the course of the highway expansion can be cleared after an emergency application from Naturefriends Germany was rejected after a delay. The continued construction of the A66 and its connection to the A661 through the planned Riederwald tunnel have been among the long-running political issues in Hesse’s largest city since the mid-1980s.

Prime Minister and Interior Minister pay a visit

On Wednesday morning, Hesse’s Prime Minister Boris Rhein and Interior Minister Peter Beuth (both CDU) came to the Fechenheimer Wald to get a personal impression of the operational situation. Rhein appealed to the demonstrators to clear the forest and “let the police do their job and then stop obstructing the clearing work”.

Meanwhile, the reiterated environmental activists their resistance to the start of the eviction. “You’re going to have a hard time with this eviction,” they said.

Police: A little indignation, no animosity

The police had been on site since early Wednesday morning with forces from all Hessian headquarters and federal police forces. “So far the atmosphere has been such that we have not been shown any hostility. Of course there is a bit of indignation that the police are there – that was to be expected for us, but otherwise there have been no attacks on the emergency services,” said a police spokesman in the morning.

According to the motorway company, about 2.2 hectares of forest have to be felled for the construction of the more than one kilometer long Riederwald tunnel with two tubes. That’s about the size of three soccer fields. Another half hectare of forest will remain temporarily as a habitat for the protected long-horned beetle. According to the state of Hesse, around 12,000 young trees were planted in west Frankfurt in 2018 to compensate.

The German Police Union (DPolG) said that the Fechenheimer Wald should not become a second Lützerath. Hesse with – alluding to the protests against the demolition of Lützerath in North Rhine-Westphalia for brown coal mining. Numerous activists and police officers were injured last weekend.


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