It was actually only supposed to be a formality for Bernhard Winter, the former mayor of Markt Schwaben and the initiator of the Sunday meetings. On July 24 last year, he asked to join – or rather, explained him, as his email shows – to the Bund Naturschutz (BN), district group Ebersberg. But the formality turned out to be a political issue: Winter was initially put off and finally rejected. The Schwabener market is now joining the BN in North Rhine-Westphalia. How did that happen?
Winter has written a “chronology of a preliminary failure” that is based on his home page can be found. Subtitle: “Why I’m not a member of BUND Naturschutz”. In the chronicle, he traces his contact with various BN committees to the day and sometimes to the minute. First he turned to Olaf Rautenberg, then district chairman of the BN. He is said to have told him that membership would be difficult.
“There is an incompatibility of beliefs here”
The reason: a combination of Winter’s negative attitude towards setting up wind turbines in the Ebersberg forest and the unwillingness of the district group to endanger their shaky consensus with regard to their approval.
The question of whether wind turbines belong in the forest or not has long divided the environmental activist scene. After internal discussions, the BN decided to support them. Bernhard Winter, in turn, founded the “Alliance for the Forest” in October 2021. It advocates wind turbines in the district, but not in the Ebersberg forest.
Winter is prominent. The BN district group feared that his admission would have reopened old wounds and rekindled old discussions. Josef Biesenberger, current district chairman, describes the problem as follows: “There is an incompatibility of beliefs here.” In any case, the district group is already doing the splits when it comes to installing wind turbines. “We don’t want to widen the gap,” said Biesenberger. However, he himself was not busy with Winter’s application for admission. This was unfortunate.
The assessment of the application for admission took several months
If one follows Winter’s chronology, he was always put off when he received an answer at all. Apparently, the BN was struggling to deal with the application properly or an attempt was made to wait it out. Finally, in November, Winter received an offer from BN state manager Peter Rottner: Winter could join if he would “support” the board resolution of the district group on wind power in the Ebersberg forest.
Winter felt that this was a “request for revocation”, which was out of the question for him. He does not want to and cannot revoke his “well-considered and balanced position”. Winter also regrets that he is not allowed to bring his opinion to the BN Ebersberg, whose positions he supports almost entirely. “In a democracy there should be room for contrary opinions,” Winter told the SZ.
Rottner and Biesenberger do not see any problem in terms of democratic theory
Peter Rottner, meanwhile, explains that he deliberately kept the phrase “support” ambiguous: “You can use it for yourself and you can use it against yourself.” He sees no democratic deficit. When you join an association, you first have to accept the resolutions. “I myself also do a lot of things differently at the club than I would do privately,” says Rottner. But he was concerned with the big issue of environmental policy.
Josef Biesenberger does not see democracy in danger either. “Mr. Winter is of course allowed to have his opinion,” said the district chairman. Winter also has his own alliance with which he promotes his cause. “But the statutes of the BN expressly provide that a veto can be submitted against an application for membership by a district group.” Such a veto was finally pronounced.
According to Winter, however, he didn’t know anything about it: “Nobody told me about a veto.” Overall, he never knew what stage his application for membership was in.
Winter is now a member of a BN local group in NRW
In the meantime, however, the matter has been settled more or less amicably: Winter has withdrawn his declaration of membership in the BN district group in Ebersberg. Instead, he is now a member of another group: in East Westphalia. This membership resulted from his contacts in Bielefeld.
Winter is happy with this solution. He doesn’t believe that joining Ebersberg would have led to great unrest. However, he is convinced that he can also make a valuable contribution in East Westphalia. “Nature is connected. Whether I’m active in Markt Schwaben or in NRW, there really isn’t much of a difference.” Josef Biesenberger is also happy that this solution has been found and Peter Rottner considers it a “wonderful compromise”.
One can only hope that East Westphalia will not soon decide to build a wind turbine in a forest.