Our day in court – Pro-Mosel vs the government of RLP

The Pro-Mosel campaign group is still fighting against the High Mosel Bridge, and in the latest turn of events has taken the government of Rheinland-Pfalz to court

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Outside the court house: Elisabeth Reis and Georg Laska, 2nd Chair and Chairperson of Pro-Mosel

Pro-Mosel are trying to view, under the Freedom of Information Act, a review of new static calculations that was carried out by an independent surveyor and which has so far been withheld by the government. It seems there was a problem with the original bridge plans because the need for new calculations appears to be the cause of a one year delay in building. At the hearing in the Administrative Court Trier, the lawyer for Pro-Mosel argued that the review should be available for scrutiny in accordance with the law. The lawyer for the public works department and the Ministry of the Interior, for Sports and Infrastructure stated that the construction companies did not want this information to be made public. The Pro-Mosel lawyer pointed out that it is not up to private companies to decide what information should or should not be given out, but up to the government. The lawyer for the Ministry stated that to give out this information would expose trade secrets, threaten the protection of intellectual property and thereby render the government liable to a damages suit from the building companies should any costs arise. The Pro-Mosel lawyer said that this argument is unlawful, and that he considered the static review to be an official proceedural document which must therefore made public upon request. Vice President of the Administrative Court, judge Reinhard Dierkes said that since performing the static review was a public legal requirement the court regards it as official information (thereby agreeing in principal with the case as put forward by Pro-Mosel’s lawyer). Nevertheless, there may in certain instances exist reasons not to make specific data public.

It remains to be seen whether the court consider the government’s decision to withhold data and not follow legal proceedure to be justified, or wholly inadequate. The judges will now make a ruling and then inform both sides by letter. It will take some weeks before we will know the result. There was substantial interest from the press in this case, and it was clear that the court was not used to hosting a full compliment of television, radio and newspaper journalists. We all await the outcome, and whatever twists and turns ensue.

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10 campaigners managed to show up at the court today. I guess we don’t look like a bunch of people who will change the world for the better, but that doesn’t stop us trying our best!

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