Some of the activists during the tree occupations in Forst Kasten at the end of May 2021 were experienced and well-equipped climbers who attached wooden platforms at a height of around seven meters before the police cleared them. Photo: Götzfried Götzfried ©
After a sensational protest, followed by unmistakable silence in the forest, it has been official since Wednesday: The contractually agreed gravel extraction on 9.5 hectares in the Kasten forest near Neuried will not take place.
Gräfelfing – The Heiliggeistspital Foundation, which belongs to the state capital, and Gebrüder Huber Bodenrecy-cling GmbH from Neuried have mutually terminated their lease agreement on 25 May. This was announced by the state capital on Wednesday. Therefore, "no gravel will be extracted by the company in the forest," according to the announcement from Munich City Hall.
The justification for this rather silent cancellation of the highly controversial lease agreement was vague on the part of the state capital. In the meantime, there are "changed framework conditions that have led to the fact that the public law approvability of the gravel mining project is in question". A continuation of the contract is now "no longer sensible for both sides".
The conclusion of the contract in June 2021 after several years of tendering had already caused great discomfort among many city councillors. Especially in the parliamentary groups of the Greens and the SPD, only the sheer legal predicament was able to create a majority. After all, according to the government of Upper Bavaria, if the award was refused, there was a threat of "economic damage" for the city-owned foundation, and even recourse claims against individual city councillors were in the room.
In fact, it should have become clear to all those involved by now that the social resistance to this project would be considerable, perhaps insurmountable. This may also have been due to the sensational tree occupations by climate activists who attached platforms between trees at a height of eight meters in the affected area in late May and early June 2021. Environmentalists from the Würm Valley showed solidarity with the activists and supported their protest. Of course, there was no "Hambach Forest II" in the Würm Valley at that time. On June 10, 2021, special police forces cleared the platforms and rappelled down the activists; the contract was signed the following day.
Mayor Dieter Reiter made the role of the city seem like an uphill battle on Wednesday with audible relief. "Now we have succeeded in doing what seemed impossible in the past: no gravel is mined in Forst Kasten," said Reiter in the statement from his company. "And at the same time, we can secure the foundation's purpose for the Holy Spirit Hospital even without gravel mining." The mayor did not say why this was different before the tender and awarding of the contract, but noted: "This is very good news for the preservation of the forest, not only for local recreation, but also for environmental protection."
Of course, the environmental activists welcomed the decision, saw the role of the state capital less heroic in a statement and claimed the success for themselves. The city councillors had "voted for deforestation and cleared us out of the forest with a large contingent of police".