Sunday, 01. February 2015 - 06:02
21. 01. 13. - 20:00
An average of 20 hectares of agricultural and green land is built on each day in Austria – that's the equivalent surface of an average cultivated farm per day. Experts are asking for a change in the planning law and are calling for more cooperation between municipalities in construction projects.
The president of the agricultural chamber Gerhard Wlodlowski said recently that it is almost exclusively high-quality agricultural lands that end up as building projects.
Compared to European statistics, the building on agricultural land in Austria is higher than average. In the past 50 years, the agricultural land available fell by 300,000 hectares and meadowland went back 570,000 hectares – the equivalent of a city the size of Salzburg. At the same time, the number of abandoned industries and commercial premises shot up. These could cover one third of the space needed each year.
Only a third of the mountain land in Austria is suitable as a settling place – 15 percent of which is already used. Wlodowski said: "Everyday around 11 hectares of agricultural land is used for transport, industry, economy and housing. If one counts the recreational and mining areas, that is over 20 hectares a day."
The increasing building has negative impact on the environment and climate. Meadows and agricultural land are responsible for various functions, such as regulating the ecosystem. These are also the living space for animals and plants act as a protective measure in holding back or saving rain water. They take part in conserving biodiversity and storing carbon. Last but not least, they are a living and relaxation space for humans.
With every modification to the CO2-rich soils, the climate – and the global warming – is accelerated and the risks of storms increases. Chairman of the Austrian Hagel insurance company (Hagelversicherung) said the consumption of the land urgently needs to slow down.
Gerling Weber from the institute for spatial planning at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna (BOKU) asked on public radio that planning laws are changed. One should build sparingly, instead of always building on new meadowland. He said: "First of all, always look at what is available. And then, go for the meadowland. At the moment, it's the opposite."
He added that political motives often prevent efficient construction. He said: "The bigger the competition is between the communities, the more yielding they become with regards to the offering of such plots of land – which absolutely does not conform with the ground sparing regulations."
President of the eco-social forum Stephan Pernkopf said: "Active space policies is not only important because of ecological factors." The growing urban sprawl leads to rising costs. Compact housing structures are, on the contrary, a great relief for budgets.
Environment minister Nikolaus Berlakovich (ÖVP) doesn't believe the municipality policy is failing. There the belief that usage of ground should be slowed-down and planning laws are already being modified. He said: "There are already positive examples in all regions of planning projects whereby resources and energy consumption are reduced.
Berlakovich asks fore more cooperation between the communities to spare meadowland. He said: "the land must be worked on together, efficiently used – in the housing for individuals but also in creating new economical zones."
Police And Firemen Get Cold Turkey
Flipping the bird was given a new meaning in Austria this week when a truck filled with plucked turkeys overturned, closing a busy motorway in the process.
Rare Bald Ibis Makes Microlight Flight To Italy
The project to introduce an extinct bird back to Europe is hailing success after successfully negotiating a new route over the Alps and training 14 Northern Bald Ibises how to fly south to winter feeding grounds in southern Tuscany.
Brit Soldier Rescued After Climbing Mountain In T Shirt
A British soldier who tackled the frozen Austrian Alps wearing just shorts and a T-shirt has been rapped by officials after he had to be rescued from the snowy peak.
Jobless Footballers Join Dole Rangers To Showcase Their Talent
Austria's job centres are entering the big league - by creating a football team to allow jobless footballers to showcase their talent and get work.
Good manners guide for Arabs dropped by Salzburg tourism officials
Tourism chiefs in Salzburg have been forced to withdraw a controversial etiquette guide for Arabs that aimed to stop them trying to haggle over prices, cooking in their rooms, and dumping their litter around the region.
Strongman pulls worlds largest twinjet plane out of hanger
A strong man known as the "Austrian Rock" has notched up his 16th endurance world record, this time by pulling a Boeing 777 plane from its hangar at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat.
Austria receives record visitors from UAE
Austria received a record amount of visitors from the United Arab Emirates in 2013, according to the Austrian National Tourist Office.
Cheetah enclosure rebuilt after run of escapes
After a run of great escapes from the cheetah residents of Salzburg Zoo, the big cat enclosure has been rebuilt in an effort to prevent further breakouts.
Hosting Eurovision 2015 in Austria already complicated
The search for a suitable location for next year's Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Austria is already hitting complications with still 11 months to go until the event.
FIFA extend Taboga ban worldwide
The life time football ban imposed upon player Dominique Taboga by the Austrian Football Association (Ã–FB) in February for match-fixing has been extended by FIFA today to include worldwide activities.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days