It will be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world – across a strictly protected valley in Upper Franconia. Environmentalists are appalled that the Environment Department, of all people, is now making the project possible.
Lichtenberg (dpa / lby) – Plans for the controversial Franconian Forest Bridge across the Höllental in the district of Hof may continue. Bavarian Environment Minister Thorsten Glauber issued a special permit on Tuesday during a visit to Lichtenberg. “The Frankenwaldbrücke is supposed to become a showcase project for Upper Franconia. It should offer a breathtaking view of a green ocean of trees,” said politician Free Voters.
Experts from the nature conservation council of the Upper Franconia government recently spoke out against the construction. The bridge with a length of more than 1000 meters must cross the middle of a nature reserve. Despite the concerns, the district government is sticking to the plans and appealing to the Environment Ministry, which has now given the green light.
“The project harmonizes environmental protection and tourism in a responsible manner,” said the Minister of the Economy and Tourism, Hubert Aiwanger (Free voters). “This means that more added value and jobs are possible locally. We urgently need new perspectives here for a region which is grappling with many structural problems.”
Environmental groups reacted with horror to this decision. They fear serious interference with the ecosystem. Migratory species such as the eagle owl and peregrine falcon would be significantly affected, the National Association for the Protection of Birds (LBV) warned. “This is how wonderful nature is degraded into a cheap setting for pleasure tourism,” criticized LGW president Norbert Schäffer.
The approval of the Höllentalbrücke was a bad signal, said Richard Mergner, state president at Bund Naturschutz. “We still consider the project to be flawed and unapprovable in terms of nature conservation.” The Greens are also critical of the project. With this decision, the Minister of the Environment does not care about the environment, said MP Tim Pargent.
A 387-meter-long bridge will also cross the nearby Lohbach valley. The two bridges are called Franconian Forest Bridges. Overall, the project is expected to cost around 22 million euros.