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Regional nature conservation associations have examined the vegetation on the plot of land near the highway in Frankenforst, where the city wants to build the southern fire station in the forest. Their verdict is unambiguous: there are strictly protected biotope types there, construction is impossible. The city has prepared its own preliminary studies, which come to a different conclusion. Nevertheless, conservationists are now bringing a new location into play, the 23rd.

The planned construction of the urgently needed southern fire station is the subject of a further exchange of blows between conservationists and the city: the regional representatives of the relevant associations (BUND, Landesgemeinschaft Naturschutz, Bergischer Naturschutzverein) warn the city that it is running into a dead end with the planning and will fail in the examination of the environmental concerns in the development plan procedure.

Chance of realization "less than 50 percent

"This area cannot be considered for building use," postulates Holger Sticht, the BUND state chairman and intimate connoisseur of Konigsforst, at an on-site meeting.

It is true that nature conservation often falls by the wayside when interests are weighed up, admits Mark vom Hof, chairman of the Bergische Naturschutzverein (Berg Nature Conservation Association). Nevertheless, he estimates that the city’s chances of actually building the fire station here are less than 50 percent.

City: no "hard planning barriers

An assessment that is not shared by the fire department and the city. It is true that they are only at the beginning of what is in principle an open process in the planning for the site between Frankenforster Strasse and Rather Weg: the development plan can only be drawn up on the basis of many expert opinions. The city council had given the basic mandate for a planning of meanwhile just under 8000 square meters of area in September 2021 with the votes of the traffic lights.

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But first preliminary examinations, that had announced fire-brigade boss J?rg charcoal burner on Tuesday evening in the responsible technical committee of the city council, for the further planning green light given: With regard to species protection and flora, fauna and habitat (FFH), there are "no hard planning barriers," said Kohler.

As part of the feasibility studies, the city had the site, also called the "Franconian Forest" by local residents, examined by external experts with a view to species protection and compatibility with the neighboring FFH area. These expert opinions are to be published as part of the B-Plan process so that the population, associations and authorities can comment – before the politicians make their final decision.

Two protected biotope types found

The conservationists do not want to wait for that. In a first step, they examined the vegetation of the woodland "Rather Weg" near the highway. In the process, as Sticht and vom Hofe now reported on site, they had already come across two strictly protected biotope types in the grove that, in their view, prohibit development.

These are on the one hand the "dry oak-hornbeam forest", on the other hand the "broom bush". The fauna has not yet been recorded, but exactly in the corner of the area where the fire station is to be built, there is a very old oak forest, which probably has a high significance for bats, but also for birds and insects.

In addition, the minimum distance to the FFH and bird sanctuary Konigsforst would not be observed. In any case, this piece of forest, which was cut off at the end of the 1960s by the construction of the highway, continues to belong to the Heideterrasse and the Konigsforst – and thus to the European nature conservation heritage. The nature conservationists have recorded the details in a "statement on the value of vegetation" (see documentation below).

The state has the final say

Whether they can prevail in the end with these arguments, the nature conservationists themselves are not sure. But they have other trump cards up their sleeves. Because apart from the B-plan procedure the country North-Rhine/Westphalia will decide at the end whether the fire station is to be built here.

It is the owner of the area and had agreed to the sale only under one condition: The city must prove that for the fire station actually no other property comes into question.

An alternative further east?

It is precisely this point that Mark vom Hofe doubts. The city had already examined and rejected 22 alternatives in the course of the past ten years. Among them is von Hofe’s proposal to use the area a little further east, between the highway and the technology center, not only for the RVK’s "Green Mobile Farm" but also for the fire department.

Now von Hofe presents the 23. Location: a strip of land to the west of the Green Mobile Farm, between Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse and Overather Strasse. In the coming years, this area will be "vigorously dug up" anyway: The expanding company Miltenyi Biotech is expanding its complex, the technology park is being built, and the Porsche Center Meisheide is also being expanded.

If the new, so laboriously negotiated land use plan must be expanded by the "land-robbing Mobilhof project" and by the site for the fire station, then why not concentrated in one place, asks vom Hofe. The owner of the site would be willing to sell or lease it out. He had already spoken to Mayor Frank Stein about this months ago, but the city showed no interest.

23. Option checked and discarded

The city administration confirms the talks, the owner had offered the land for sale in August 2021. Fire chief Jorg Kohler, who is in charge of the project, said these 23. Option thoroughly examined – and had come across a number of problems.

Initially, the fire department would not be able to reach large parts of Refrath from this location within the prescribed response time.

In addition, the entire area has the same nature conservation status as the area in Frankenforst, is partly forested and crisscrossed by sieves.

Also the consideration, better in one place large than in two places less large to interfere with nature, does not bear. Because the green mobile yard would probably be approved only under the condition that the neighborhood is not damaged further. Even a discussion about a B-plan in this area could throw the "green mobile farm" project off track.

More forest in the end than before

In addition, a well-known argument in favor of the forest still speaks in favor of the fire station in Frankenforst: the forest area that disappears there is compensated twice over. By the city, which has to finance compensatory measures elsewhere. And by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which wants to use the proceeds of the sale for reforestation elsewhere. An effect that is lost when buying from a private owner.

After weighing up all aspects, the administration had come to the conclusion that the site to the west of the Green Mobile Yard "is to be assessed significantly worse than the site in Frankenforst in tactical, ecological, time and financial terms" – and does not represent a sensible alternative.

Kohler had only briefly called in the results of the environmental assessments on Tuesday in the Committee for Infrastructure, Environment, Safety and Order, but sooner or later the politicians will also have to deal with the issue again. The conservationists have also sent their counter opinion to the city council.

Documentation

Further contributions to the topic

Knowing what’s going on: The day in GL 19.1.2022

South fire station: traffic lights cut administration’s plans

South fire station: G demands more in-depth examination

Fire station south: stone answers questions to the environment

New fire station in Frankenforst to be significantly larger

Know what’s going on: The Day in GL 20.8.2021

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G. Watzlawek

Journalist, economist and founder of the citizen portal. Mail: [email protected] More from G. Watzlawek

Have your say, make a comment

@Drucker, pity that with the pseudonym, but clearing-up does here emergency. Total misunderstanding….for God’s sake, this is not about, quote, "how old or valuable the building approached is", totally irrelevant, maybe still a pity.

But it is about the dangerous goods, about the risk assessment, how many people are in danger (in case of a damaging event), children, people in need of help, old people, sick people, high-rise residents, hotel guests……

@Lothar Eschbach: "Kitas, schools, old people’s homes, hospital, rehabilitation centers, hotels, high-rise buildings, critical structures, castle, city hall, museum, industrial plants, technology park…all on the uphill side of the tramway, rather less in Refrath/Lustheide. This also speaks clearly in favor of a location other than Frankenforst."

This is really far-fetched, especially since it only corresponds to a small part of the truth. There are specifications to be fulfilled, within which time the operation places must be reached after alerting. This must be taken into account by the spatial arrangement of the guards. And this regardless of how old or valuable the building approached is.

And that is exactly why the eastern outskirts of the city are no alternative to Frankenforst.

Otherwise, the protectors of the shaggy highway forest will one day be able to say to themselves: "Oh, the family in Refrath burned to death in their apartment because the arrival time of the fire department was too long? Well, at least the stupid blue light does not disturb us while watching television and the broom bushes were allowed to remain … that is also worth something!"

"A heart for the Konigsforst, the forest on your doorstep"

First of all, many thanks to the experts for nature conservation in our region for their expertise and assessment and for this reporting. Who is on the way with interest for the king forest, the nature protection and the domestic region, which could already take note in September of the previous year, thus some months ago the study made now public on the Website the mountain heath terrace.

Thus it was and is not surprising also in knowledge of the locality that this piece with the highway construction cut off king forest as grown forest is most valuable straight in today’s time and in its condition and its effect with the situation may not stand for the disposition, all the same for whom, all the same for what. Also, in this context, the assessment is superficial and negligent, a tree is a tree, no matter where it stands. In this respect, double the area or more planted somewhere does not help either, eyewash.

In comparison to this careless handling of an ecologically valuable piece of inner-city forest, one only has to recall the high-profile efforts to create a new forest at the traffic circle in the city center. Every effort for improvement is good, but we don’t need anything for the gallery, we need first of all the protection of our grown inner city forest and to this belongs this piece of Konigsforst.

I don’t have to imagine that the Rather Weg as the new hunting trail of Jan Wellem leads directly to one of the most important baroque castles in Europe and also leaves a different impression at the entrance to the town than a sober multi-storey fire department building. The protective effect of the forest through its ability to filter climate-damaging carbon dioxide from the air, and this is located exactly between the highway and residential development, which is unmistakable and irreplaceable.

If then also for a long time well-known an alternative is designated to the building site Frankenforst, then with such a heavy-weight decision should not be worked with assumptions, then the facts should be considered.

To these facts also an actual danger cadastre counts and of course the consideration of one of the main obstacles because of the defaults to the accessibility, the crossing of the Kolnerstrasse by the line 1. This obstacle alone could ca. two minutes with closed barrier and crossing train, which of course applies up, coming from Frankenforst, as down from Bensberg to Refrath.

To the danger register a cutout of a city map and after old fathers custom multicolored needles to stick is recommended. Kitas, schools, retirement homes, hospital, rehabilitation centers, hotels, high-rise buildings, critical structures, castle, city hall, museum, industrial plants, technology park…all on the uphill side of the tramway, rather less in Refrath/Lustheide. This also clearly speaks for a location other than Frankenforst, especially since there is also a fire station in Refrath.

A new evaluation of this situation makes a lot of sense just for reasons of the current status on climate protection and the advanced state of knowledge.

@Hanns-Eberhard Schulze: This is likely to be an important point. Instead of following the st.-Florians principle simply to shift the problem as far as possible from the own front door, it is already more meaningful to look at the sticking points of the project first more closely.

At first sight it seems to be welcome from the point of view of the protection of our environment that the nature conservationists speak out critically and point out the high value of the forest piece in Frankenforst. On closer examination, however, your proposal seems to me more like a change from cholera to plague or vice versa: Instead of 8.000 square meters of forest area in Frankenforst to sacrifice is to believe an equally large area of forest in Moitzfeld dran.

This helps the protection of forest, climate and humans from my view hardly or not at all. It would be basically only a shifting of the problem, just from Frankenforst to Moitzfeld.

Instead, I wish that the conservationists had first and foremost considered the destruction of the 2.000 square meters of forest (of the planned 8.000), which is demonstrably not necessary for the replacement of the current fire station. Because this area was additionally built into the project in a night-and-fog action by our new city council and is to be released for felling – without need, contrary to all previous promises to the citizenry and to the great detriment of our forest.

I think we should protect trees and woodlands first and foremost by preserving them as much as possible.

Relocating the destruction of forest helps little.

In this case, "bullshit" is in the eye of the beholder, Rainer Z. (sorry pseudonym) or in its perception. Did you live on Frankenforster Str. or behind it, would also you refuse to the building of a fire station, prevents nevertheless the "green prevention nonsense" in large measure the vielfaligen pollutant emissons of the highway into the residential area to pull.

It is hoped that the fire station will be built before 2049. This green prevention nonsense can not be seen with.

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