German police clear another environmental activist camp after Lutzerath

After German police cleared activists preventing the demolition of a western village to make way for a coal mine, they have now removed environmentalists protesting a road expansion near Frankfurt, said an official statement on Wednesday.

Authorities have been clearing the activist camp in the Fechenheim Forest near the city since Wednesday morning, just hours after the village of Lutzerath was emptied about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west, the Frankfurt police announced on its website.

The activists, occupying the area for more than a year, were trying to block the construction of a new highway route to run through part of the forest in eastern Frankfurt.

Traffic in the area was diverted for the eviction, with the A66 highway closed.

Planned for decades, the 2.2 kilometer (about 1.4 miles) connection between the A66 to the eastern bypass A661 is to be routed through the 2.7-hectare (6.7 acres) wooded area, with roughly half of its length to run underground in the planned Riederwald Tunnel.

Opponents of the project have been erecting barricades and more than a dozen sturdy huts for a year, including some on the ground and others 10 to 15 meters high in the trees.

All those still in the closed forest area will be approached and given the opportunity to leave voluntarily, according to police.

If the opponents of the expansion should refuse, they will be taken out of the forest by emergency forces, added the statement.

In addition to specially trained height intervention teams, special equipment will also be used to bring them down safely and then away from the area.

A few weeks ago, only a few dozen people were living in the hut camp. It is unclear how many demonstrators are currently in the zone surrounded by police.

In recent days, two courts rejected last ditch attempts by the forest conservationists to prevent the clearing of the trees.

Environmentalists and members of the Green Party and Left Party gathered in Frankfurt's Romer City Hall to voice their opposition against the clearing of this "valuable piece of forest" and local recreation area.

The road link would mean more traffic for Frankfurt on balance and would not fit in with the cross-party propagated fight against climate change, critics argue.

The state government of Hessen, where the forest is located and held by the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Green Party, hope the construction of the Riederwald Tunnel will provide "noticeable relief in terms of congestion and emissions."

Source: Anadolu Agency