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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
- Lack of a Master Plan for the sustainable development of the property (issue resolved)
- Potential impacts of the Rhine crossing project
- Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure (traffic increase)
- Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
- Input of excess energy (Noise pollution)
- Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
- Renewable energy facilities
- Management systems / management plan
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
On 21 November 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/documents/ and provides information on the implementation of requests of the Committee at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017):
- Planning and consultations for a permanent Rhine river crossing are taking place and application documents are being developed. Various options will be examined and a Spatial Impact Assessment will be conducted. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies will be consulted on the proposals, before further decisions are made;
- The Deutsche Bahn AG is planning extensive rail noise reduction measures in the property. The national authorities responsible for the property will be involved in the preliminary planning and the approval procedures;
- The Federal States of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse still apply different policies to wind energy projects in World Heritage properties and their buffer zones. A case-by-case analysis is applied to wind energy projects in adjacent areas to buffer zones. The State Party submitted a Visibility Study and other documents for a wind farm extension on the Kandrich Hill (adjacent the buffer zone of the property) on 8 October 2018. The assessments of the potential impact of the extension of this wind farm on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property by the planning authority and the authorities responsible for World Heritage conflict with each other. This is a matter of concern;
- The application Ranselberg Hill wind farm project has been withdrawn;
- The revised project proposal for the Holiday Resort Sankt-Goar-Werlau is still in an early planning phase. The overall impact of the planned project will be assessed on the landscape level. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS will be consulted in the further planning stages;
- The process to update the Management Plan of the property has commenced. A draft document should be presented to the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS in 2020, prior to its consolidation into one document with the existing Master Plan. The document will include an ‘integrated cultural landscape impact study’.
The report provides further information on the upgrading of three railway tunnels between St. Goar and Oberwesel and the operating license extension of the cable car system between Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein Fortress (for which the State Party requested an ICOMOS Advisory mission). The Federal Horticultural Show 2029 will be organized in the property.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The recommencement of planning for the permanent river crossing is noted, and the planned related studies look to improve the understanding of the impacts of this project. While the preparatory documents seem to be enhanced, particular attention would be needed to ensure that the developed options focus on addressing the issue of inefficient local mobility and will not result in attracting an increased wider regional traversing traffic to the property. It is recommended that the State Party consult the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in the development of options appraisals at the earliest possible stage.
The issue of noise pollution from railway traffic, especially freight trains, has been present at the property since its inscription on the List of World Heritage. In past years, the State Party has undertaken efforts to reduce the noise level, though with no effective result. The plans to upgrade railway tunnels between St. Goar and Oberwesel in a manner that will potentially harm the OUV of the property are noted with concern. Long-term solutions for the reduction of railway traffic seem to depend on the Federal Government and the national rail company that operates the trains. Therefore, it is recommended that national transport strategies prioritise finding solutions to divert freight train traffic from the Rhine valley or effectively reduce their traffic flow through the property.
The withdrawal of the application for the installation of the wind farm project on Ranselberg Hill is welcomed. However, it is also noted that the two Federal States of Rhineland-Palatinate and of Hesse still have different policies and regulations concerning wind farms and turbines within World Heritage properties and their buffer zones. Wind farm projects within the setting of the property are assessed with a case-by-case approach. ICOMOS reviewed the visibility study and other information concerning the extension of the wind farm on the Kandrich Hill, and concluded that the current state of the wind farm already represents an important negative impact for the property and the additional infrastructure would increase this, hence, the project for the extension should be rejected. The State Party should be encouraged to develop a systematic zoning map for the property, identifying sensitive areas within the property, its buffer zone and beyond, also considering culturally significant visual aspects, key views, viewpoints, panoramas, silhouettes and other factors related to its OUV.
The State Party should also send the revised detailed plans with the spatial assessment document that includes a Visual Impact Assessment of the cultural landscape for the Holiday Resort Sankt-Goar-Werlau to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made towards an application document.
Progress on the update of the Management Plan and its planned consolidation with the Master Plan is noted with satisfaction. This framework document should set clear governance processes and provide an adequate background for a more effective management system. The draft document should be submitted for review and comments to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to its finalization.
The set of above-mentioned, planned projects (including the Federal Horticultural Show 2029 and the license extension of the Koblenz cable car system), might potentially have a cumulative adverse impact on the property. Therefore, the State Party should be requested to invite a Reactive Monitoring mission instead of the planned Advisory mission, in order to thoroughly assess the state of conservation of the property since its inscription and provide guidance on how to assess, mitigate or avert the cumulative potential negative impacts of the foreseen changes.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.83
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.45, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
- Noting the recommencement of planning for a permanent river crossing, reiterates its request to the State Party to 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, but focusing on developing solutions for local needs, and before any decisions are taken;
- Welcomes the State Party’s continuous commitment to reduce rail-related noise levels in the property, notes however with regret that no effective result was achieved so far, and notes with concern the plans to upgrade railway tunnels between St. Goar and Oberwesel in a manner that could potentially harm the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, therefore, encourages the State Party to develop long term solutions for diverting freight train traffic from the property or effectively reduce their traffic flow;
- Also welcomes the decision to withdraw the application for the installation of the wind farm project on Ranselberg Hill, near the municipality of Lorch, and strongly encourages the State Party:
- to reject the application for the extension of the wind farm on the Kandrich Hill, near the municipality of Oberdiebach,
- to harmonize its legislative tools and criteria for the assessment of the impact of wind farms on the OUV of the property and its buffer zone, and develop systematic mapping for identifying sensitive areas within the property, its buffer zone and beyond, also considering culturally significant visual aspects, key views, viewpoints, panoramas, silhouettes and other factors related to its OUV;
- Also encourages the State Party to provide revised detailed plans with a spatial assessment document that includes a Visual Impact Assessment on the cultural landscape for the Holiday Resort Sankt-Goar-Werlau, to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, and before any irrevocable decisions are taken;
- Commends the State Party for its effort to update the Management Plan of the property into a consolidated document with the Master Plan, and also requests the State Party to provide the draft consolidated document to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, in order to ensure that its recommendations and comments can be appropriately taken into account in the final document;
- Further welcomes the initiative of the State Party to invite an ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property in 2019 to assess the extension of the Koblenz cable car operating permit, nevertheless, further requests the State Party to invite instead a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to assess the impact of already implemented changes and provide expert advice on how to assess, mitigate or avert the potential cumulative adverse impact on the OUV of the property of prospective projects, including the upgrading of three railway tunnels, and the Federal Horticultural Show 2029;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.