The legal dispute initiated by an objection of the GRÜNE LIGA Thuringia concerning the overbuilding of the Werrabahn line in the district of Hildburghausen by the district road K 530 has now been decided. On 25 October 2022, the district of Hildburghausen withdrew its complaint against the objection decision of the Thuringian State Office for the Environment, Mining and Nature Conservation (Thüringer Landesamt für Umwelt, Bergbau und Naturschutz: TLUBN) of 7 May 2021. This means that it is now legally established that the district road K 530 in the 2nd construction section (CS) between Eisfeld and Heid is a blacktop construction that was built by the district without lawful authorisation.
Grit Tetzel, Managing Director of the GRÜNE LIGA Thuringia, explains: "First of all, this is good news for the reactivation of the Werrabahn. Even if the exact variant is still to be found in a regional planning procedure, all options for the important rail gap connection between southern Thuringia and Upper Franconia now remain. For us, it is now above all of interest how the unlawful state of the black construction of the district road K 530 is ended. We believe that both the district of Hildburghausen and the planning approval authority are now obliged to immediately implement the decision of the Thuringian State Office for the Environment, Mining and Nature Conservation. Moreover, the intervention by the new construction of the K 530 was superfluous, as an extension of the existing district road close to the existing situation would have been completely sufficient".
Parallel to the court proceedings, the Federal Railway Authority (Eisenbahnbundesamt EBA) has taken a stand on the matter. This is because the district road K 530 was built by the district on land that is dedicated for railway purposes and is needed for the intended reactivation of the Werrabahn. Therefore, the EBA informed the district authority in a letter dated 19.04.22 that the district's application for exemption of the land from railway operation purposes would be rejected. Moreover, the application was only submitted to the EBA one and a half years after the black construction had been put into operation.
"This means that the Werrabahn route in the district of Hildburghausen is and remains a dedicated railway route with all the legal effects resulting from this status. The route must be taken into account in all projects affecting it and may not simply be built over. This is anchored in the State Development Programme Thuringia 2025 as well as in the Regional Plan Southwest Thuringia," says Henning Eggers, transport policy spokesman of the GRÜNE LIGA Thuringia.
"The lack of exemption of the land means that the district road may not be approved in a planning approval procedure. This conclusively states that the road, which has already been built, cannot be subsequently legalised either," as lawyer Dr. Eric Weiser-Saulin from the law firm Baumann Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB explains. The law firm had represented the GRÜNE LIGA Thüringen e.V. both in the opposition proceedings and in the court proceedings before the Meiningen Administrative Court.
Background information on the K 530 black hole on the Werrabahn route
As early as May 2021, the TLUBN determined that the construction of the district road would have required a planning approval procedure at the Weimar State Administration Office. In this procedure, the public as well as the authorities and associations would have had to be involved and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) would have had to be carried out. The district should not have simply issued itself a permit.
It is now up to the Weimar Regional Administrative Office to take further legal action against the Hildburghausen district. The TLUBN has already outlined the legal consequences in its objection notice of 7 May 2021 as follows: "The planning approval authority, as the competent approval authority, is also responsible for a decision on a general prohibition of use of the road section already under traffic and on any necessary deconstruction to restore the initial condition within the meaning of § 17 para. 8 BNatSchG."