Desert dispute about the Rappenalptal – Bavaria

In the dispute over the destruction of the Rappalp valley, the alpine farmers and the Oberallgäu district administrator Indra Baier-Müller (free voters) are now making serious allegations. In an interview with the BR, the chairman of the Alpine cooperative and hotelier in Oberstdorf, Hannes Thaumiller, accused Baier-Müller of lying: “The fact that the district administrator is now twisting the facts in public and getting caught up in her lies, what damage this causes to the entire alpine economy , our existence, for my family and I, that is irreparable.” Baier-Müller countered: “Criminal investigations are pending against Thaumiller for endangering areas in need of protection. In such a situation, it is not advisable to pour more oil on the fire via the press.” Especially since Thaumiller himself “has demonstrably told the untruth in several respects”.

The Rappenalptal in the south of Oberstdorf is one of the natural jewels in Bavaria and is strictly protected. After a flood in August, the alpine farmers had the Rappenalpbach, which flows through it, dredged and straightened, so that there is hardly anything left of the original mountain valley and its unique natural diversity over a length of 1.6 kilometers. The Bund Naturschutz, which uncovered the nature crime, speaks of the worst destruction in a nature reserve for many years. The case is also so serious because the Rappenalptal is protected to the maximum under German and European law. From the outset, the district office asserted that construction work of this magnitude had not been approved there and would never have been able to be approved. According to the district office, only minor measures were discussed and agreed.

In the interview, Thaumiller vehemently disagrees with the district authority and refers to a note she made after inspecting the flood damage in August. It was agreed that the damage would be repaired, and the alpine farmers understood the note in the file as approval for later construction work. “For us, that was a building permit,” he says. Thaumiller also explains that the district office did not check the work. Thaumiller is “shocked”. He does volunteer work, he says. “I go to the district office. They make the wrong decision. And afterwards I’m portrayed as a criminal.”

From the point of view of the district office, these are “protective claims”. At the end of October, during a visit to the natural outrage in the presence of numerous officials, Thaumiller himself admitted that he had expanded the Rappenalpbach beyond the scope agreed with the authorities. District Administrator Baier-Müller’s position is strengthened by an initial court decision. At the beginning of December, the Augsburg Administrative Court rejected an urgent application by the Alp farmers against the order to restore flood protection on the Alpbach and to measure the damage in the nature reserve. The decision that the Süddeutsche Zeitung is available, comprises 38 pages and deals in detail with the nature of the work and the question of whether it was permitted or would have been permitted.

The result of the judges is clear. The construction measures are “undoubtedly a water body development that requires approval, which (…) requires planning approval by the competent authority,” says the decision. The procedure for this, which is extremely complex, was “obviously not carried out”. The conclusion of the judges: Contrary to Thaumiller’s opinion, the memorandum to which he refers is not an approval of the construction measures carried out and cannot be understood as such afterwards. Thaumiller does not want to accept this decision. His lawyers have lodged a complaint with the Bavarian Administrative Court.

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