Status: 03.08.2023, 18:54 p.m.
By: Nicole Kalenda, Martin Schullerus
Fought against gravel mining in the Bannwald: When it became known in May 2022 that the district office had granted the application of the Glück company for gravel mining with backfilling, there was an "urgent demo" in front of Planegg Town Hall within 24 hours. © Dagmar Rutt
The Planegger Douglas Grove must not be cleared for gravel mining – at least not for the time being. The Bavarian Administrative Court has upheld the appeal of the Bund Naturschutz against a first-instance decision. He does not see the legal requirements for a clearing permit given.
Planegg – The decision of the Bavarian Administrative Court (BayVGH) published on Thursday is dated July 31, and it has it all: The court upheld the complaint of the Bund Naturschutz in Bayern e.V. (BN) and temporarily suspended the permit for gravel mining and the associated partial clearing of Bannwald. "Ban forests are forests close to settlement areas that are particularly worthy of protection, which are of exceptional importance for the climate and the water balance, among other things," says a press release from the BayVGH on the justification.
The Munich District Office had granted the Gräfelfinger company Glück permission for gravel mining in Planegg. The permit included permission to clear a piece of a banned forest for this purpose. This is the so-called Douglas Grove or Planegger Wädlchen east of the composting plant on plot number 195T. On 2.1 hectares, gravel is to be mined up to two meters above groundwater level. An initial application was rejected by the district office in 1996, but the authority finally approved the project in spring 2022. The BN's urgent application against this was rejected in the first instance by the Munich Administrative Court.
Authorisation vitiated by an error of assessment
The BayVGH has now upheld the BN's appeal, annulled the decision of the Administrative Court and temporarily suspended the approval until the decision in the main proceedings. In justifying the urgent decision, he stated that the legal requirements for a grubbing-up permit were not met. It must be ensured that, as a replacement for the ban forest to be cleared, a new forest is established that is or at least could become approximately equivalent in terms of extent and functions. So far, the competent authority has not explained this in a comprehensible manner with regard to the replacement areas provided for in the decision. Moreover, the authorisation is vitiated by an error of assessment because it does not take sufficient account of the legislature's intention to afford the highest possible protection to banned forests. The argument that only a small piece of ban forest is cleared is not convincing, because otherwise the ban forest could be deprived of its functions by way of a "salami tactic".
Astrid Pfeiffer, a member of the Würmtal Green Corridor Network and second chairwoman of the Würmtal Nord local group of the Bund Naturschutz, learned of the decision through an inquiry from Merkur. "Positively surprised is an understatement. I am very happy. These are wonderful conditions for stopping further clearing for gravel mining in the Würm Valley," she explained, explicitly mentioning the Lochhamer Schlag, where the Glück company is also planning gravel mining. "Nowadays, the Forest Act no longer allows such deforestation to be carried out." Pfeiffer continued: "The court has obviously dealt more intensively with the complaint. I'm grateful for that."
Happiness consults lawyers
In an initial statement on Merkur's request, Markus Wahl, managing director of the company Glück, said: "We did not expect this decision, and the reason is incomprehensible to us." The Administrative Court had fully followed the reasoning of the licensing authority. After all, there was an obligation to create 2.1 hectares of forest and biotope; the Office of Food, Agriculture and Forestry rated the project as good. "And now, all of a sudden, it doesn't count anymore?" said Markus Wahl.
The argument that Bannwald is unconditionally and completely inviolable cannot be sustained in this area. Markus Wahl: "There is no forest here that is not a ban forest. And the gravel has to come from somewhere, preferably regionally with short distances, of course." For many years, the Glück company has been committed to at least equivalent, usually higher-quality follow-up planting. "That's why 95 percent of the people of Würmtal can live well with us," says Wahl. Now the company will take its time to deal with the legal issues that arise and consult its lawyers.