The environmental go-ahead for the project to construct the Siarzewo Dam on the Vistula River has been revoked by the Polish Minister of Climate and Environment, Michał Kurtyka. Non-governmental organisations, forming part of the Polish Save the Rivers Coalition have been pushing for several years for the Ministry to reassess the environmental consent for the project. Its construction would alter one of Central Europe’s least impacted large rivers with disastrous and irreversible impacts for people and nature.
The Save Polesia partnership welcomes Minister Kurtyka’s decision, which was taken against political pressure. The move to revoke the environmental consent is based on scientific data and takes into account legal conditions. Furthermore, the decision provides an opportunity to seek a permanent solution to the problem of the ageing Włocławek barrage. Public funds should finally be allocated to decommissioning the Włocławek, the environmental and operating costs of which are rising and will continue to grow, burdening taxpayers.
The Save Rivers Coalition, which includes Save Polesia partner the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds, are analysing the Minister’s decision in detail to plan next steps to be taken.
Could this be the end of the E40 waterway?
Save Polesia hope that revocation of the consent will also mean Poland’s withdrawal from the economically, socially and environmentally unsound plans for the construction of the E40 waterway.
The E40 waterway project would not only cause an environmental disaster in Poland, but also in Ukraine and Belarus – and in Europe’s greatest intact wetland wilderness, Polesia. Even though planning and assessments at the international level have not been completed by the three countries involved, national governments are progressing the E40 waterway step by step. There exists evidence that one of Europe’s most pristine rivers, the Pripyat, has been dredged as part of the E40 waterway in Ukraine’s Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
The Polish section of the shipping route is seen as key to the E40 waterway as a whole. Last month the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure requested a joint decision among the governments of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, if the E40 waterway project is to be implemented. In a letter sent to the Save Polesia partner NECU the Ministry stated that, ‘without the willingness to plan and the possibility of implementing measures by Polish colleagues, progress in the project is not economically feasible.’
Environmental go-ahead for Siarzewo Dam construction on Vistula revoked by Polish Minister of Climate and Environment. Decision sparks hope that Poland will also withdraw from the economically, socially and environmentally unsound plans for E40 waterway. #savePolesia #Stop_E40Tweet
- Read the full Decision of the Minister of Climate and Environment
- Find out more about Polesia and read our factsheet ‘About Polesia – A unique wilderness of global importance’
- Learn more about the threats from the E40 waterway and read our factsheet ‘Polesia under threat – How a new waterway could destroy Polesia’s natural environment’
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*Top image is an aerial photo of the Vistula River. © Bartek Szaro