Cities criticize traffic light plans for building permits for solar parks

Cities criticize traffic light plans for building permits for solar parks

Eichenzell is idyllically situated in the valley of the river Fulda. However, Autobahn 7 cuts through the length of the Hessian community. A solar park is being built on twelve hectares by the side of the road. That was wanted and planned by the municipal administration. But a new rule in the building code will turn off cities and communities in the future when photovoltaic systems are built on motorways and along major railway lines. “We’re upset,” says Mayor Johannes Rothmund.

The town is particularly affected. The Fulda motorway triangle is in the middle of Eichenzell. There are two motorway exits, a third is planned. These transport links are both a curse and a blessing: a blessing because the community is attractive for commuters to the flourishing Fulda and for businesses. Curse, because the highways bring noise and ugly bridges spoil the pretty Fulda valley. Added to this is the new curse of building law.

“Disorganized situation threatens”

Theoretically, six percent of the municipal area can be built on with solar systems in the future without the municipal administration having a say. Solar systems can be built without a permit where there is no forest along the freeways and along two rapid-transit railway lines. A total of a good 340 hectares are still open, although not every area is practical. North slopes are unsuitable and lots must be several acres in size.

Selling electricity is not a problem in Eichenzell: there are bulk buyers locally, thick cables and a substation. “We fear that someone will come around the corner and build 40 hectares,” says Mayor Rothmund. This is at the expense of the areas that are still kept under the plow by the remaining farmers.

Sven Brodt from the Hessian Association of Towns and Municipalities confirms: “The problem is that there are communities that are very badly affected”. There is a risk of “a disorderly situation that will affect the landscape,” says Bernd Düsterdiek from the German Association of Towns and Municipalities.

What to do with the highway shoulders?

The new building law wants to accelerate the expansion of solar power plants and put an end to the small-scale local politics. “From the point of view of the federal legislature, this is a very effective regulation,” says Brodt.

Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz describes the new building law as advantageous for the municipalities. “By using areas where there are no claims to living space, agriculture and local recreation due to motorway traffic and train journeys, wind turbines, photovoltaic systems and hydrogen converters can be built,” said the SPD politician.

This is “a win-win situation for the climate and structurally weak regions,” said Geywitz. Except that Eichenzell is not structurally weak, but would rather maintain agriculture and settle tax-heavy trades instead of area-consuming solar parks.

Resistance is difficult

The community representatives of Eichenzell have decided to draw up a land use plan. This should prevent unplanned development by solar parks. According to the mayor, two percent of the municipal area, or 110 hectares, would be earmarked for photovoltaics.

These areas are not planned schematically on motorways and railway lines, but on inferior soil and old landfills. Sven Brodt from the Association of Municipalities points out that land use plans are extremely complex. Your success in the fight against the federal building law is unclear. “Defenting yourself against the new law is problematic, since pure preventive planning is inadmissible,” he says.

Will a court decide in the end?

Mayor Rothmund expects a lawsuit. He suggests that the administrative court may have doubts about the constitutionality of the new federal law and refer the case to the constitutional court. Because Article 28 of the Basic Law stipulates that municipalities have to “regulate the affairs of the local community on their own responsibility”.

Before the 11,000-inhabitant municipality of Eichenzell takes this narrow and expensive legal route, political decisions by the municipal council are still necessary, says the mayor.

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