Upper Middle Rhine Valley (Germany) (C 1066)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2002
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
February 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Advisory mission; December 2012: ICOMOS Advisory mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Noise pollution and traffic increase
- Potential impacts of the Rhine crossing project
- Lack of a Master Plan for the sustainable development of the property
- Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
- Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
- Input of excess energy
- Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
- Renewable energy facilities
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015
On 15 January 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/documents. It addresses the requests of the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session as follows:
- Master Plan: Five interest groups have been established to consider the implications of the World Heritage Master Plan in relation to the property. In spring 2016, the Master Plan and other plans will be brought together into a single planning document that will represent the updated 2001 Management Plan.
- Rhine crossing: The issue has been not addressed in the current Master Plan.
- Bobsleigh Track: Although the Federal State authorities agreed with the Committee’s request to refuse permission for the bobsleigh track, the State Government was ‘unable to prevent’ the final permit from being approved.
- Loreley Plateau: Tenders for development proposals based on respect for defined view sheds and the morphology of the plateau are being considered.
- Energy proposals: On the basis of a sight-line study, the Federal State of Rhineland Palatinate has passed a resolution to keep the property and buffer zone free of wind turbines and to ensure that any proposals beyond the buffer zone are evaluated for their impact on Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Nevertheless, it is stated that in a few cases it might be impossible to prevent turbines that have some impact. In the Federal State of Hesse, the Regional Development plan bans turbines in the property but not the buffer zone. A draft energy plan for South Hesse is currently out for consultation and this will identify priority areas for turbines. The State Party suggests that it would be helpful for standard criteria to be developed for the assessment of wind farms in the settings of cultural landscapes to avoid case by case assessments.
- Noise levels from trains: An Advisory Committee was established to consider measures to reduce noise levels by at least by 50% by 2020. Nevertheless, it is forecast that the number of trains will increase between 2016 and 2025 as a result of the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. At the same time, proposals for constructing new tunnels are being considered, which could allow trains to bypass St Goar.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
As it has not proved possible to include within the Master Plan an appraisal of what might constitute an appropriate Rhine crossing, as requested by the Committee, other ways to carry out an options appraisal need to be explored, in order to have a clear policy way forward beyond the end of 2016.
The detailed and professional sight line studies are welcomed. It is noted that the Federal State of Rhine-Palatinate will amend its Regional Development plans so that there are policies in place to ensure wind turbines are not allowed within the property, buffer zone or wider setting. The situation is different in the Federal State of Hesse where the Regional Development plan has already been amended and only bans turbines in the property. An energy plan for South Hesse is still out for consultation and will define priority areas for turbines. It remains unclear how the sight line study will be taken on board in this State and this gives cause for concern.
The State Party observes difficulties in considering turbine proposals on a case by case basis and in measuring the impact of turbines on a cultural landscape. In the report, it is suggested that it could be helpful to develop standard measures for assessment of turbines in cultural landscapes. A sight line assessment, as already in place in part of the property, augmented by a three-dimensional framework, should provide an excellent basis for a landscape/area based approach to defining places where turbines are, or are not, allowed and for defining regional policies. ICOMOS would welcome further discussion and consultation with the State Party on how such an approach might be developed, in line with approaches already in place in other cultural landscapes.
Progress on finalizing the Implementation Concept for the Master Plan is noted, as well as bringing this together with other plans to provide an updated plan for the property. The need for the updated Management Plan to set out clear governance processes for the property should be stressed. In particular, it would be helpful to define the interface between those responsible for historic buildings and those for the landscape, as well as how the energy and transport authorities relate to both of these. The apparent lack of such a framework has tended to lead to a number of development projects being forwarded to ICOMOS for comment when there is no agreement between various authorities.
The new advisory body set up to consider ways of reducing noise levels from trains within the property is welcomed. It is apparent that on their own the Governments of the States of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse can have limited say on this issue, as many of the solutions depend on the Federal Government (through transport strategies), or the national rail company Deutsche Bahn AG that operates the trains, and that both of these could be influenced by European Union (EU) directives on noise mitigation.
Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.78
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.75, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
- Regrets that it has not proved possible to include within the Master Plan, as requested, an appraisal of appropriate options for a Rhine crossing; urges the State Party to explore other ways to carry out such an appraisal so that there can be a clear policy way forward beyond the end of 2016; and requests the State Party to submit such an appraisal to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Welcomes the sight line study that has been undertaken in relation to the location of wind turbines, with its clear methodology and detailed implementation as well as the resolution passed by the Federal State of Rhineland Palatinate to keep the property and the buffer free of turbines and to ensure proposals for turbines beyond the buffer zone are evaluated for their impact on Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
- Also urges the State Party and the authorities concerned to accept the outcomes of the sight line study and implement appropriate policies through its energy plan and other measures;
- Encourages the State Party to collaborate with ICOMOS to develop clear and consistent approaches for wind turbine policies, that might have wider application;
- Notes the commitments by the States of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse to drive forward measures to reduce noise levels from trains in the property, but also notes the limit of their possible actions and further urges the State Party and the authorities concerned to use their infrastructure programmes in order to prioritise the reduction of train noise and support technical improvements to train tracks and tunnels;
- Stresses the need for the updated Management Plan to set out clear governance processes for the property as well as clear policies and strategies in order to support coherent and consistent development across the whole property;
- Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.