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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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
On 10 November 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/documents/ and provides information on the implementation of requests of the Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015), as follows:
- Appraisal for Rhine crossing: Planning for a permanent Rhine crossing at St. Goar in form of an infrastructure project has been resumed by the regional parliament. Spatial planning procedures are being prepared and visual impact studies, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and traffic surveys will be updated and re-conducted. UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies will be consulted in the process. The Master Plan will be amended to include the river crossing and other infrastructure projects;
- Sight line studies and wind turbine policies: The Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate has amended the current Regional Development Plan according to the findings of sight line studies, to the effect that development of wind turbines in a World Heritage property and its buffer zone are not permitted. The Federal State of Hesse adopted special regulations concerning wind energy, defining World Heritage properties as non-priority areas for wind energy. Wind energy is generally permitted in and adjacent to buffer zones, but consideration is given on a case-by-case basis. The Complementary Plan on Renewable Energies includes a priority area within the buffer zone north of Lorch. An application for approval of a wind farm in Lorch-Ranselberg has been filed. Two studies regarding environmental assessments and sight line analysis for the planned wind farm project were submitted by the State Party on 10 November 2016, in compliance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. The State Party expressed concern regarding the differing conclusions, noting that the study commissioned by the investor still does not accord “in terms of methodology, quality of implementation, or the assessment criteria” with the one commissioned by the Federal State of Rheinland-Palatinate;
- Noise reduction from trains: The Federal Government has declared its intention to significantly improve noise reduction by banning freight trains not fitted with low-noise tracking system as of 2020. In addition, an application has been prepared to develop an alternative route outside of the valley to be included in the Federal Transportation Infrastructure Plan and the Federal Railway Development Act;
- The Master Plan and the Management Plan will be consolidated into one document upon their revision, setting out the governance processes, policies and measures for future development of the property as suggested by the Committee;
- A revised project proposal for the Holiday Resort Sankt-Goar-Werlau has been prepared, taken into account the issues raised and recommendations provided by ICOMOS, relocating the hotel to a non-critical area and reducing the scale of the hotel building. A visualisation will be submitted;
- The project proposal for the Loreley Landscape Park on the Loreley plateau, chosen through an EU-wide architectural competition, is considered compatible with World Heritage status and is closely followed by representatives and experts of relevant national authorities and heritage organizations;
The report provides further information on past and future projects and activities, with a positive impact on the property, such as Germany's horticultural shows 2008-2011 (the next show, on the Loreley Plateau in 2031, is currently under consideration) and youth projects for World Heritage.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The information provided on the resumption of planning for the permanent river crossing is noted and it is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to closely involve the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, at the earliest possible stage, in the development of options appraisals, which should be undertaken in a wide regional, strategic context.
The commitment of the State Party to reduce noise levels from trains in the property is positive, and it is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to prepare and adopt relevant legal regulations for railway noise reduction.
The two Federal States of Rhineland-Palatinate and of Hesse have very different approaches concerning wind turbines and renewable energy, adopting different policies and regulations concerning wind farms and turbines within World Heritage properties and their buffer zones. It is therefore recommended that the Committee note with concern the policies and regulations adopted by the Federal State of Hesse. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is one entity and therefore common regulations and policies should be adopted for this property. There is also a need for common criteria for wind farm assessments and for independent and impartial entities to be chosen to carry these out. This concerns in particular the proposal for a wind farm on Ranselberg hill near Lorch. ICOMOS reviewed two environmental assessments and sight line studies, and concluded that the wind turbines have a very high adverse visual impact on the property due to their visibility from several different points within the boundaries of the property.
It is also recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to send the revised plans for the Holiday Resort Sankt-Goar-Werlau to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made.
Progress on the revision of the Master Plan and the Management Plan is noted with satisfaction as well as the intention to consolidate them together in a single document.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.45
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.78, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
- Noting the resumption of exploratory planning for a permanent river crossing, requests the State Party to closely involve the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, at the earliest possible stage, in the appraisal of options undertaken in a wide regional strategic context, and before any decisions are taken;
- Welcoming its committment to reduce noise levels from trains in the property, encourages the State Party to prepare and adopt relevant legal regulations for railway noise reduction;
- Notes with concern the policies and regulations adopted concerning wind turbines within World Heritage properties and buffer zones by the Federal State of Hesse and urges the State Party to work towards common policies and regulations to exclude wind farms from World Heritage Properties and their buffer zones; and strongly encourages the State Party to develop common rules and criteria for the assessment of the impact of wind farms on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and its buffer zones;
- Also requests the State Party to halt the project for the installation of a wind farm on Ranselberg hill near Lorch, which has a very high adverse visual impact on the OUV of the property, due to its visibility from different points within the boundaries of the property;
- Also encourages the State Party to provide revised plans for the Holiday Resort Sankt-Goar-Werlau to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, and before any decisions are taken;
- Further requests the State Party to provide the revised and consolidated Management Plan and Master Plan, prior to their consolidation into one document, to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.