The General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways in Białystok has recently announced plans to build the S16 expressway (as part of the international route Via Carpatia) through the Biebrza National Park. The Biebrza Valley is a special place on the map of Poland and Europe. Every year, it is visited by tens of thousands of Biebrza nature enthusiasts: specialists from various disciplines and tourists seeking relaxation. In recognition of the outstanding natural values of the Valley, 25 years ago the Biebrza National Park was created there. The Valley was designated as a RAMSAR wetland of international importance and included in the Natura 2000 network.The local inhabitants of the Valley have lived in harmony with nature for generations. Their main activity is agriculture and the recent years have seen fast growth of wildlife tourism. The construction of the S16 expressway will irreversibly destroy this unique place. That is why we, the inhabitants of the Biebrza Valley and lovers of its exceptional values, say: "NO" TO THE S16 EXPRESSWAY THROUGH THE BIEBRZA.
It is not possible to construct such large transport infrastructure without a significant impact on the areas that it would cross: marsh ecosystems, which are vulnerable to any disturbance; protected habitats; breeding areas and migration stopovers for millions of birds; and home to protected mammals and other animals. The S16 expressway project must not be carried out "in velvet gloves". It would also bring losses to nature and to the inhabitants of the Valley that would be impossible to compensate for.
We are convinced that there is an alternative solution, which would bypass the Biebrza Valley and reconcile the necessity to protect the Biebrza National Park, the Natura 2000 sites and the RAMSAR area with the construction of Via Carpatia. As in the case with the controversial road Via Baltica, a multi-variant analysis should be carried out, together with a strategic environmental assessment. This assessment must cover a longer section of Via Carpatia, for example between Lublin and the connection with Via Baltica, and not only the 70-km-long section between Knyszyn and Ełk that is currently under consideration. Only results of this analysis should inform the decision about the final corridor of Via Carpatia. By ignoring national and EU legal requirements regarding nature conservation, we would risk conflict with the European institutions and loss of EU funds.
In the light of the arguments above, in concern of the nature and landscape of the Biebrza Valley, its inhabitants and visitors, and the necessity to combat the loss of biodiversity and climate change, we urge that any works related to Via Carpatia which threaten the Biebrza Valley and its residents are suspended. Specifically, we call for:
• suspension of work on the Technical, Economic and Environmental Study for the Ełk-Knyszyn section of the S16 expressway,
• performing a multi-variant analysis with a strategic environmental impact assessment for the Via Carpatia section at least from Lublin to the connection with Via Baltica and selecting a route based on the results of the analysis and in accordance with the Polish and European environmental law,
• suspension of the procedures for the S16 road from the Lublin ring-road to Białystok until the strategic assessment for Via Carpatia is completed,
• taking temporary measures to improve road safety on the section of the national road 65 between Knyszyn and Grajewo, compatible with the needs of local residents and tourists.
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This petition was created on the initiative of Biebrza Valley inhabitants, with the support of the NGOs listed below and organisational support from Greenpeace, which is the administrator of your personal data.