TIROLER TAGESZEITUNG "Editorial" from September 19, 2023, by Peter Nindler "The Fall into the Bottomless"
September 18, 2023 at 23:43
Innsbruck (OTS) – The intended conversion of ten hectares of agricultural reserve land into an industrial area threatens to represent a huge fall from grace in Tyrolean land policy. The politically responsible Josef Geisler gets into trouble because of his own fault.
If a commercial area is to be built on 100,000 square meters of the highest quality arable land, this is an expression of a failed land policy in Tyrol. Ultimately, the agricultural land in St. Johann and Oberndorf should be preserved for the development of efficient and sustainable agriculture. That is why they were deliberately designated as agricultural precautionary areas in mid-2019.
On the other hand, it’s about the much-discussed erosion of the soil. How can it be that ten hectares of the most fertile arable land are sealed by commercial settlements and the highest farmer representative in the country, ÖVP farmers’ association chairman and agricultural officer LHStv. Josef Geisler, doesn’t scream out immediately? Because he has been politically responsible for land, spatial planning and land use policy since last year. This cannot happen, the apparent conflict of interest weakens Geisler in the long term. If he stands up for the farmers and against the rezoning into an industrial area, the business community will accuse him of taking an even greater disadvantage to the farmers than is already the case. However, if Geisler allows the commercial area to open, he will be at odds with his clientele. His dual role also becomes the sword of Damocles for the black-red state government.
An effective soil protection strategy that aims to reduce daily land consumption in Austria to 2.5 hectares cannot be achieved. Politics is too ambiguous: externally yucky, internally yucky. Not even the extremely negative expert opinions make Geisler press the stop button.
But the fall of man began much earlier. Why did the state’s land fund snatch it away from the state culture fund, which would have needed the 7.5 hectare property in St. Johann as agricultural exchange land, at the end of 2019 without consultation? Was the rezoning into an industrial zone a political deal that had already been made back then and that now absolutely has to be adhered to? At the expense of agriculture and careful use of land in the country.
If there is a green light for the industrial area in Leukental, it would massively undermine the state government’s credibility in land policy. And at the same time, join in the legitimate doubts that something is really happening in terms of curbing illegal leisure residences or the mobilization of 3,500 hectares of unused building land. In any case, Geisler would be required, but he is stuck in conflicts of interest.
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