The planned line railway between Lübeck and Puttgarden runs through environmentally sensitive areas - nature reserves and areas of outstanding natural beauty, so special attention must be paid to the possible effects of a transport infrastructure project of this magnitude on the flora and fauna.
As the developer, Deutsche Bahn (DB) has to comply with a number of standards and obligations, to avoid or minimise a series of undesirable effects to the greatest possible extent.
An innovative consultation process took place in Germany and Denmark as early as 2006. During a six-week period, associations, local authorities and the public had an opportunity to voice their opinions on the environmental aspects associated with the rail link and the construction of the tunnel, at an early stage in planning. The proposals and objections contributed by respondents were examined and taken into consideration as planning progressed.
On the German side, an environmental impact study was also carried out and submitted in June 2012, in accordance with EU regulations and within the scope of a regional planning procedure. This involved a year-long study of an area of 22,000 hectares, covering species such as native and migratory birds, amphibians, butterflies, bats and endangered types of plant. DB commissioned comprehensive special reports on flora and fauna, including wildlife surveys and a hydrogeological paper concerning the effects on groundwater conservation areas.
Commissioning of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link will also benefit the environment, as its opening will create new capacity for rail freight (the German Federal Infrastructure Plan anticipates 78 freight trains daily in 2025) and shorten the freight route by 160 km. This means a triple plus for the environment. Rail freight will be more attractive, thus relieving pressure on the roads. This will cut carbon dioxide and particulate emissions significantly.
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