There will be a great deal of tension at this Wednesday's council meeting in Salzgitter. Politicians decide whether the idea of a joint Braunschweig-Salzgitter industrial and commercial area has a future. In the event of a no vote, the project will not be pursued further. A yes, on the other hand, would be a mandate to the two mayors to examine the sticking points by fall 2019, without whose solution the project would not be feasible at all. Only then would the councils in Braunschweig and Salzgitter make a final decision on the industrial and commercial area.
The majority of the SPD faction in Salzgitter is against the project
Braunschweig's politicians have already given the green light for the next steps with a large majority; rejection came from BIBS and the Greens. In Salzgitter, however, there are many more critics. The Greens will vote against the project, as will individual members of the CDU and the MBS (Mundige Burger Salzgitter) – and a clear majority of the SPD parliamentary group, as Ulrich Leidecker, chairman of the parliamentary group, reports. He himself will also reject the project: "Salzgitter is highly indebted. I'm worried that we'll make a financial mess of this project and won't be able to afford anything at all."
Whether it will be a narrow majority in favor or against is therefore open. While the regional economy hopes for a yes, the two citizens' initiatives "Southwest Braunschweig" and "NO to the industrial area SZ/BS" campaign for a rejection of any further planning. In her view, this would be an irresponsible encroachment on nature. Among other things, they fear noise and more traffic.
What also concerns them is the fundamental question of the necessity of this area. Our reader Willi Korowski from ufingen, for example, doubts that there are no alternatives: "What about Runingen-West and the main freight station in Braunschweig??", he asks "What will become of Watenstedt?? What about the developed areas in Beddingen??"
The response of the two cities: No other site in the region than the one now under discussion is of such a size and has connections to water, rail and the autobahn. In addition, investors are looking in particular for so-called 24/7 areas for round-the-clock operations and industrial areas – and there are not enough of these.
"The existing areas would not be sufficient compensation"
As for the Runingen-West area, Braunschweig's press spokesman Adrian Foitzik says that although it is identified as a potential site in the city's commercial land development concept, it would not be sufficient compensation for the area with Salzgitter. This also applies to the Wenden-West area, which the city is preparing. "Both areas are sufficient at most for a short time to meet the demand," says Foitzik. In addition, the administrative committee had already decided in 2011 to stop planning for Runingen-West. "Special challenges were species protection, necessary redesignation of the landscape conservation area and noise protection," he explains. "A land use with industry is not conceivable due to the proximity to residential areas."
With regard to the site at the main train station, where the "Bahnstadt" with residential and commercial space is to be built, Foitzik explains: "Especially towards the A39, industrial areas with higher emission values would be conceivable. Overall, however, only small portions would be available for industrial use and thus would not be sufficient in any way."The goal of urban economic development must be to be able to offer jobs in the manufacturing sector as well. Foitzik: "Otherwise, we would lose considerable employment opportunities. This would particularly affect workers and skilled workers who would be affected by job losses or relocations outside the city." In this respect, the request to the council in Salzgitter to pass a resolution for further consideration of the area remains unchanged.
"We have to let opportunities pass by unused"
In response to our reader's question about Watenstedt, Salzgitter's city spokeswoman Simone Kessner says: "Development into a commercial area for 24-hour operations or into an industrial area is not possible at the moment because there is residential use there. The current ie is to resolve the conflict between tolerated residential development in an industrial area with surrounding industrial operations. The voluntary abandonment of residential use takes a longer period of time."
According to her, there are ongoing talks with investors about the areas in Beddingen. In May, 5.5 hectares had been sold, he said. At present, concrete negotiations are being held on a total area of around 37 hectares. However: There are no 24/7 areas in Beddingen, he said.
"Between February and May 2018 alone, Wirtschafts- und Innovationsforderung Salzgitter GmbH received nine inquiries for large 24/7 sites between 6 and 40 hectares, with advised effects of between 500 and 3,500 new jobs," says Kessner. "Salzgitter currently has to let these opportunities pass by because these requests cannot be served."