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Monday 29.05.2017 | Name days: Raivis, Raivo, Maksis
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EC: Rail Baltica route’s crossing of Vitrupe Valley is unacceptable

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe European Commission urges Latvia to comply with environmental protection acts and take into account the report of its environmental institutions on how it is unacceptable to allow Rail Baltica’s Salacrgiva section to go through Vitrupe Valley.

On Tuesday, 18 October, a meeting was held in Brussels between Latvian representatives and representatives of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment. Talks were held in regards to alternatives for C5 section of Rail Baltica project in Salacgriva, which crosses Natura 2000 territory in Vitrupe Valley. Latvia was represented by Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Transport Ministry, Salacgriva Council and Rail Baltica project officials.

During the meeting, Transport Ministry’s representatives informed the EC about the project’s progress, environmental impact assessment and the government’s approved action plan. The head of Salacgriva municipality emphasized the potential for the development of the coast, as well as turned attention to the fact that the government’s approved alternative for the project’s section in Salacgriva would impact many local residents. He said Salacgriva also has the North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve. With that, any other alternatives would lead to cutting into agricultural lands.

EC explained that from the perspective of EU environmental legislation, it would be necessary to focus on alternatives for Rail Baltica’s route in Salacgriva that would not cross territories covered by Natura 2000. If no alternatives are possible, however, crossing Natura 200 territory would only be allowed once all conditions of EU environmental legislations are met and there are guarantees in place to ensure no negative impact on the environment.

EC also noted that the assessment of social and economic impacts and choice of alternative routes is the responsibility of the host country. If Latvian government decides to realize C5 alternative and cross Natura 2000 territory in Vitrupe Valley, EC will have to perform an in-depth analysis of all documents to make certain Rail Baltica project des not leave a negative impact on protected territories. This process would require more time. Changing the railway route’s location, it will be necessary to secure approval from EC for the provision of funding for Rail Baltica.

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