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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 2021
On 20 November 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066/documents/, and which provides updates in response to Decision 43 COM 7B.83 as follows:
- The planning process for a permanent river crossing has been delayed. Investigations into different crossing options continue. The State Party will keep the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies involved in the process and no final decision will be taken before their review and feedback;
- The option to build new railway tracks between Bonn-Troisdorf and Mainz-Bischofsheim to divert freight trains from the World Heritage property is not currently included as a priority project in the 2030 Federal Transportation Infrastructure Plan. A feasibility study has been commissioned for a bypass as well as the railway tunnels between St. Goar and Oberwesel, which underwent fundamental restorations in 2019;
- Comprehensive noise reduction measures are implemented on existing railway routes. The new Railway Noise Control Act took effect on 13 December 2020 and will help in reducing railway noise by half across Germany;
- The planned expansion of the Kandrich Hill wind farm is being evaluated by the district administration. A wind farm in Boppard-Weiler and two turbines near Wiebelsheim, in the setting of the property, were granted approval, despite the findings of the 2012 line of sight study. The Rheinland-Palatine State is assessing options to challenge the approval of potentially damaging projects on a legal basis;
- Planning for the Sankt-Goar-Werlau Holiday Resort is halted. Should it recommence, a spatial analysis and a Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) will be carried out and their results shared with the World Heritage Centre;
- Progress has been made to update the Management Plan of the property, but has been hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic. It will include a baseline study for assessing impacts on the cultural landscape;
- The planned Reactive Monitoring mission has been postponed also due to the sanitary crisis and has been scheduled for the early summer 2021.
The State Party provided further information after the submission of its report:
- Design options for a grade-separated intersection planned to the west of Rüdesheim within the property are being evaluated. A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) has been commissioned and a feasibility study is currently on-going;
- A 4-turbine wind farm is proposed in the setting of the property at Himmighofen and Kasdorf. The application is pending; the visualisations carried out suggest that the project will likely have an adverse visual impact on the integrity of the property;
- There are plans to expand the long-existing Sooneck open pit quartzite mine within the property. A comprehensive impact assessment will be carried out as part of the planning approval procedure;
- Another grade-separated intersection is planned to be constructed between the national road B42 and the railway track no. 3507, within the property, for a new local bypass road at Braubach, in order to reduce high traffic through the city centre. The national authorities are considering if an HIA will be required;
- The redevelopment of the Koblenzer Brauerei/‘An der Königsbach’ area in the city of Koblenz, within the property is planned by enhancing some existing buildings and demolishing others to be replaced by new ones. The project entails the conversion of the brewery to new functions and the creation of new residential quarters. The plans are at an early stage, and the German National Committee of ICOMOS is planned to be consulted during the planning process;
- A new planning competition to develop a hotel complex on the Loreley plateau was confirmed by the State Party in April 2020 and additional information was provided to the World Heritage Centre to augment the State Party report. The World Heritage Centre transmitted the review of ICOMOS to the State Party on this proposal on 22 April 2021, and the State Party briefly notified the Centre that the hotel project has been cancelled;
- The Reactive Monitoring mission has been invited by the State Party to be carried out between 20-24 September 2021.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The delay of the planning process for a permanent river crossing is noted and the State Party’s intention to keep the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies involved in the process is welcomed. It is also noted that there are several other planned projects within the property, which are either in the early planning or planning evaluation process, and which have the potential to impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The HIA for the Rüdesheim grade-separated intersection was submitted in March 2021 and will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies.
The efforts of the State Party to work towards long-term solutions to reduce rail related noise pollution within the property are appreciated, as are its efforts to find ways to divert freight trains from the property through the construction of a bypass. However, it is noted that the legal framework to be followed both on the federal and the EU level makes it difficult to find rapid solutions.
The stand-alone impact assessments on wind energy projects submitted for review cannot be assessed as they evaluate the impacts of these developments individually. The continued uncoordinated proposals of wind turbines and wind farms, and their individual and cumulative negative impacts, highlight the need for the State Party to find legally grounded solutions to halt the decisions, declare a temporary moratorium on wind farms in the property, its buffer zone and its setting and develop a strategic spatial framework for wind energy developments for these areas. This spatial framework should be based on sensitivity mapping related to a thorough definition of the attributes that support the OUV of the property (including potential visual impacts), and then be assessed through a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that provides means for looking at cumulative impacts and enables to address them at the earliest stage of decision making. Once these documents have been reviewed by the Advisory Bodies, the approved spatial framework can form the basis of wind energy development siting in the future.
The proposed hotel complex development on the Loreley plateau, which is a critical attribute of the OUV of the property, has been evaluated by ICOMOS. The proposal was considered to have a high negative impact if implemented on both this area as well the entire property, endangering also the OUV thereof. Subsequently, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre about the cancellation of the project. A strategic framework should be developed for a suitable future use of the plateau that supports the OUV of the property. Such a framework could be assessed through impact assessment procedures before submission to the World Heritage Centre for review.
Seeing the number of projects with potentially negative individual and highly-negative cumulative impacts on the OUV of the property, it is recommended that the State Party be requested to keep the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies informed of all major project design options planned for implementation within or around the property in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and ensure that independent impact assessments are carried out for them. Project documentation should be provided for evaluation and feedback before final or irreversible decisions are made. The State Party should be encouraged to pay special attention to this advice in relation to the Koblenzer Brauerei/‘An der Königsbach’ development, the Sooneck mine expansion and the Braubach bypass projects.
The progress made to update the Management Plan should be noted with satisfaction, as should efforts to include a tool that will facilitate impact assessments related to the OUV and attributes of the property. Therefore, it is essential that the Management Plan is based on, or mandates the short-term creation of a thorough identification of attributes that support the OUV of the property as a whole and for its component areas, which can serve as informant for impact assessment and other planning procedures. The document should also be accompanied by a shared vision for protection and management by the stakeholders, and the State Party has to ensure that the Management Plan is adequately embedded in the national and federal legal system. The draft document should be submitted for review and comments to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to its finalization.
Noting the proposed dates for the Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, it is recommended that the State Party be encouraged not to make any final or irreversible decisions for major projects before the planned mission has visited the property, and to provide a status update on the extension of the Koblenz cable car operating permit to the World Heritage Centre.
Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.155
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.83, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
- Commends the State Party for its progress made to update the Management Plan of the property, as well as conducting a study that will facilitate impact assessments related to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and attributes of the property, and requests the State Party to ensure that:
- the Management Plan includes a thorough inventorying of the attributes of the property and its constituent parts, or makes provision for a short-term creation of such an inventory as baseline for impact assessments,
- the document includes a shared vision by stakeholders for the protection and management of the property,
- the Management Plan is adequately embedded in the national and federal legal system,
- the draft consolidated document is submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, in order to ensure that its recommendations and comments can be appropriately taken into account in the final document;
- Notes the delay of the planning process for a permanent river crossing and 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;
- Also notes the State Party’s efforts to reduce rail related noise pollution, especially from freight trains and encourages the State Party to continue to find long-term solutions for diverting these trains from the property;
- Notes with concern that a wind farm in Boppard-Weiler and two turbines near Wiebelsheim, in the setting of the property, were granted approval, despite the findings of the line of sight study of the project, which considered them incompatible with the OUV of the property; and, in order to avoid adverse impact from these projects to the OUV of the property, urges the State Party to:
- Find legally grounded solutions that will allow the refusal of applications for wind energy projects which would potentially have a negative impact on the OUV of the property and its attributes,
- Declare a temporary moratorium on wind energy developments in the buffer zone and setting of the property,
- Develop a strategic spatial framework for wind energy developments that is based on a sensitivity mapping for the property, its attributes, its buffer zone and its wider setting, related to the OUV of the property (including potential visual impacts), and which can form the basis of wind energy development siting in the future,
- Ensure that the developed spatial framework is assessed through a Strategic Environmental Assessment that provides means for looking at cumulative impacts and enables to address them at the earliest stage of decision making,
- Ensure that the above documents are submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
- Further notes that a number of projects are planned or proposed for approval, which have the potential to impact on its OUV, therefore, also requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies informed of all major project design options planned for implementation within the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and ensure that impact assessments are carried out for these and that irreversible decisions are not taken before the relevant documentation has been reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
- Welcomes the cancellation of the hotel project on the Loreley plateau, and further requests the State Party to develop an appropriate spatial framework for the future use of the Loreley plateau, based on a thorough assessment of the relevant attributes that convey OUV and supporting their critical contribution to it, and test this spatial framework through an independent Visual Impact Assessment and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) before the framework is given legal status and any new proposals are developed following on from the framework;
- Notes furthermore that the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission has been postponed to September 2021, if the sanitary conditions will allow it; and nevertheless encourages the State Party not to make any final or irreversible decisions for major projects before the planned mission has visited the property, and to provide in the meantime a status update on the extension of the Koblenz cable car operating permit to the World Heritage Centre;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session.