Munich (MunichNOW News) The Bavarian Administrative Court dismissed all 17 claims against the controversial third runway at Munich Airport. This led to rioting in the courtroom.
When Judge Erwin Allesch announced the verdict – the culmination of 46 days of negotiations for almost a year – about 300 runway opponents stood up and started to sing the Bavarian anthem, loudly and defiantly.
For anyone unaware, the Munich Airport wants to build a four-kilometer runway near Freising, including new taxiways and a third fire station in the Erdinger Moos, to equip itself to compete internationally with other airports. Seventeen plaintiffs filed suit against the zoning decision of the Government of Upper Bavaria in the summer of 2011. Their main complaint was the fear of noise pollution for residents and damage toward nature.
The third runway would cause no negative impact on the environment, said Richter Allesch at the hearing. This led to an uproar – and to the judge wanting to clear the hall. Only the plaintiff, defendant and media representatives would be allowed to stay. A group began the “we the people” chant – and then the police arrived.
After some time, calm returned, and Judge Allesch quickly read the rest of the verdict, after which the session was terminated.
Opponents and supporters had not only delivered requests, responses and counter-speeches since March 2013, but dozens of experts, consultants and stakeholders were also in court and had put forward their arguments for, and against, the 1.3-billion euro project.
Although the Court has now confirmed the zoning decision, Airport CEO Michael Kerkloh can not entrust the company with the construction of a third runway. This is due to the ownership structure of the airport: the airport operations company is 51% owned by the State of Bavaria, 26% owned by the federal government, and 23% belongs to the city of Munich. Only when all three partners of the third runway agree can the project proceed.
In summer 2012, the citizens of Munich voted in a referendum against the third runway. Although the vote was legally binding for only one year, most factions in the city council feel more attached to it. Similarly, the OB-candidates of the SPD, CSU and the Greens have pledged to continue to adhere to it. However, now that Airport CEO Kerkloh has the permit, if he can find a way out of this political predicament, construction can proceed.
Edited by Amy Durant