Current Affairs Czech government gives green light for far reaching development blueprint
The Czech caretaker government has approved far reaching plans for how the country could develop over the next decades. The controversial development plan earmarks where strategic infrastructure could be placed. While the government insists no final decisions have been taken on what goes where, critics beg to differ.
After months of battling, the land development plan was adopted by the government on Monday. It is essentially a blueprint setting out where airports, international canals, nuclear power plants, gas pipelines, motorways and high-speed rail links could be sited or developed. Some media have greeted the approval as a victory for the country’s concrete and energy lobbies.
Although the government insists that the blueprint is not a final decision about construction, environmental groups say that it is a first and fundamental step towards such decisions.
Pavel Doucha is a lawyer with the Environmental Legal Service which helps environmental groups and local councils defend their legal rights.
“What the government says is a bit of a misinterpretation. The plan is a significant document which must be respected by regions and local councils. If there is something in the plan then the land cannot be used for something else – for example a recreational area or something similar”
As well as providing a national reference point helping to make sure Czech regions are working from the same map, the plan - with its many cross-border projects - also ensures the same at an international level.
Helping reserve land for strategic developments should help prevent the embarrassing scenario from the recent past where the national land fund sold off parcels of land near Prague airport which was eventually bought up by a canny speculator. The state-run airport later had to pay through the nose to get the land back to go ahead with its plans for a new runway. In its defence, the land fund said there were no plans out there spelling out the airport’s intentions.
The new runway features along with a lot else in the new development plan. It would allow the number of take-offs and landings at Central Europe’s busiest airport to almost double from the current 46 an hour to 75.
The plan also counts on the expansion of the Czech Republic’s two existing nuclear power plants at Temelín and Dukovany and earmarks a site for a totally new plant in northern Moravia.
It also safeguards what some describe as ambitious, others as megalomaniac, plans to link the Elbe river with the Danube via the Oder. The 150 billion crown link in the Czech Republic as well as the rest of the project is opposed by environmentalists.
And it also gives a nod towards the mining of hard or black coal in the
Beskydy region of eastern Moravia as well as a series of north-south and
east-west rail corridors and road links crisscrossing the country.