Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-24-Speech-4-044"

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"Madam President, the Polish PSE delegation in the European Parliament has stressed the need for the construction of the Augustów bypass for a long time. However, the chosen construction plan for the new road, which will pass through the Rospuda Valley, will certainly have a negative impact on the ecosystem, which is unique in Europe and is located in an area that is protected by the Natura 2000 programme. Allowing the Augustów bypass to pass through the valley will cause irreparable damage to the natural environment, including the destruction of 20 000 trees and the disappearance of extremely rare plants and animal species. Sadly, we need to be aware of the fact that any alternative to the ring road will have an impact on the natural environment in that region. We should opt for the project whose negative impact on the unique fauna and flora in the Rospuda Valley will be as small as possible. Representatives of the Law and Justice party, which currently governs Poland, assured us before the elections that the Via Baltica, which includes the Augustów bypass, will avoid the most precious natural areas. Now they are breaking their promise. The Polish authorities have had time to reconsider the location of the bypass. However, they have ignored the environmentalists’ suggestions that changing the route of the motorway would avoid damaging the environment and would save money. The Minister for the Environment did not take advantage of opportunities to reconcile the interests of the residents of Augustów, who are campaigning for a motorway, and those who seek to protect the environment. The Polish Government is ignoring the problematic fact that this investment will be incredibly expensive and will place a large burden on the Polish taxpayers, as the European Union will not contribute to the construction of the road in an area where, according to the habitats directive, it is forbidden to destroy the environment. Moreover, given the European Commission’s negative assessment of the project, further work on the construction of the road may make Poland liable for fines amounting to millions of euros. This will be a burden which Polish taxpayers will have to bear. In my view, Prime Minister Kaczyński’s proposal to hold a local, regional referendum on the Augustów bypass, and its route through the Rospuda Valley, is simply a sign that the Polish Government wants to shirk its responsibility for home affairs and is an unnecessary bone of contention for Polish society. The referendum was held because local government elections were being held in the Podlasie Voivodship at the same time. However, it was obvious from the start that the result of this referendum would not be binding for the European Court of Justice, which is currently dealing with the matter. It is therefore irrelevant and these kinds of activities only serve internal political ends. In addition to this, I would like to point out that, according to Polish legislation, a referendum is only valid if the turnout is over 30% of those eligible to vote. The turnout on Sunday did not exceed this threshold. The natural environment is one of our greatest treasures, and yet we do not do enough to protect it. I think that the Polish Government should make a real effort to draw up alternative solutions to the problem as soon as possible."@en1

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