Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-24-Speech-4-036"

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". Madam President, my group supports the Commission in this dispute with the Polish Government. In mid-June, this House’s Committee on Petitions will be sending out an inquiry mission that will be looking into the complaints by Polish citizens who do not want to see the valley destroyed. Although we will hear all parties and weigh up all arguments, one thing will be paramount: that the Via Baltica should not be allowed to damage one of Europe’s most attractive nature conservation sites. The construction of this road should not contravene European environmental laws which Poland has also signed. : treaties are there to be complied with. With its environmental directives, including the Habitat Directive and the Bird Directive, the European Union has made a vital step towards the sustainable development of our continent. The directives are a great success. The areas where they apply often form part of Europe’s Natura 2000 network, which network of protected nature conservation sites located in the Member States is at the heart of the EU’s environmental policy and of the preservation and recovery of biodiversity. They give the protection of nature and the environment an enormous boost. In some cases, this goes against the local and national grain. Politicians easily yield to pressure on the basis of short-term economic interests, instead of standing up courageously for a clean environment for the sake of future generations. Needless to say, the Via Baltica is of major economic importance. This is beyond dispute. Moreover, it is essential to open up Northern and Eastern Europe, and to link up the Baltic states with the west of Europe. Increased prosperity and wellbeing in Poland are in the interest of the whole of Europe. This is why billions of euros from the Structural Funds are being invested in that country, and everyone will understand that the residents of the city of Augustov are keen to see the end of the dangerous, noisy traffic pollution caused by lorries. Traffic will need to be diverted away from the city centre. At what cost, though? The Rospuda valley is a unique area, a special protection zone under the Birds Directive, and it should, on account of its extraordinary value, also fall within the scope of the Habitat Directive. Poland has enormous natural resources, with a landscape of outstanding natural beauty. It is these resources that hold the key to Poland’s economic future. In the Netherlands, we faced a similar situation not so long ago, with the construction – that was subsequently turned down – of a new motorway cutting across some of the Naardermeer, the Naardermeer being the oldest nature conservation site in our country which falls within the scope of the European Birds Directive. This situation was comparable to the Polish nature conservation area where the Via Baltica is planned. The Commission was right to warn the Polish Government against the construction of this section of the motorway. As a European Member State, Poland has the duty to protect the Rospuda valley, and, whilst it has proposed measures that are intended to compensate for the destruction of part of the nature conservation area, this compensation is inadequate. The study into possible alternative routes has not been carried out fully. There are other routes conceivable that could prevent irreparable damage being done to the area."@en1

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