Farmers in the district of bad kissingen speak of silent expropriation

One thing right away: "even as a farmer, I have nothing against the grass strips along the waterways, like the lauer", says dieter petsch. The deputy chairman of the local BBV association in munnerstadt, who has been practicing organic farming for 30 years, does, however, have something against the establishment of five-meter-wide water margins along ditches that did not carry any water at all. He strongly advises all farmers to consult the ditch mapping and, if necessary, submit objections to the water management office in bad kissingen. There, the deputy head of the department, birgit imhof, assures us, the objections will be examined individually.

Dieter petsch together with the munnerstadter BBV-obmann lindhorst gehring started an appeal. "As a result of the petition for a referendum on species protection, far-reaching legal measures have now been taken. The now legally prescribed water margins in bavaria affects the property and the farmer", heibt es darin "das ist das neue daran, dass es nun auch die eigentumer betrifft" (that’s the new thing about it, that it now also affects the owners), says dieter petsch. Farmers are unlikely to pay a rent for a five-meter-wide strip along ditches where they are not allowed to grow anything at all.

"We speak of a "silent expropriation", says edgar thomas, district chairman of the bavarian farmers’ association about it. He also knows enough examples. "The maps don’t fit", he says. For example, a watercourse has been mapped that has been blocked for a long time. In another case, a running stream on the map ran through the middle of a house in real life. This does not work at all. The district chairman is also realistic. "We want to make a proper story out of it, the popular petition has won, so it will be implemented." But he criticizes the authorities for not getting the maps right. "This is how you can argue with us farmers." Because there are these inconsistencies, implementation should be postponed for a year, suggests edgar thomas. He also advises farmers to get the maps through the information system "IBALIS" to view and, if necessary, appeal to the bad kissingen water authority. The farmer’s association has already prepared a sample letter.

In munnerstadt, the mood is decidedly bad. Lindhorst gehring recalls the land consolidation in 1978. Even then, farmers had to give up 10.3 percent of their flat land. In the end, the city got 112 hectares of trails. And now the farmers have been expropriated again. Lindhorst gehring can’t resist drawing parallels with procedures in communist states. He points to the many grassy areas on his farm. "We do it all voluntarily", he says.

And even more so dieter petsch. He switched to organic farming 30 years ago, he has been a pioneer in various conservation projects, such as the meadowbower program. Erosion protection strips on main waterways are a matter of course for him. But he is absolutely not happy with the water’s edge strips along the ditches. "Many citizens who supported the petition for the protection of species obviously did not know what they had signed", he says. "Few people have to face consequences of their own, they still go on long-distance trips and cruise ships, while the farmer or the landowner has to bear the damages resulting from the tightened law."

It is undisputed that there is obviously a decline in insects and species. "In view of the record honey harvest, however, the beneficial bee, which was the hang-up for the petition, is hardly affected at all. The decline in species in forest and nature conservation areas can’t be explained by management either. "Instead of responding with arbitrary laws, extensive research into the causes would be necessary. The massive impact on species pressure due to traffic, light pollution or radio coverage remain without consequences", emphasizes dieter petsch.

In this specific case, a water edge right up to the banks of the "real" ditch he is still willing to accept a ban on the use of meadow grasses, even though, for example, no synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides are used in organic farming. This kind of treatment of local citizens by the bavarian state government and the state parliament will drive a wedge between the people and the farmers and will contribute to the strengthening of the right-wing and left-wing fringes of the political landscape, dieter petsch is convinced. "In munnerstadt, the land belongs to about 500 owners, many of whom are affected by the mandatory water edge strip. The water resources management board’s erroneous guidance must be corrected and applied only to ‘real’ waters", he demands.

In the meantime, dieter petsch has also received information that the restrictions on farming will not only affect farmers, but also smallholders. It is in fact the case that gardens bordering a watercourse are also subject to this five-meter distance regulation. Lawns, even dung, would be allowed in this case, but not tillage with open cropping. Numerous gardens in munnerstadt are also affected, for example along the swimming pool and valley path or in the herrengarten.

On the website of the water management office of bad kissingen, there is detailed information on the regulations that have been in force since 1. August valid regulations concerning the water edge strips in bavaria. Accordingly, the prohibition of horticultural and agricultural use applies to a width of at least five meters along natural or near-natural areas of flowing or standing water, except for artificial water and irrigation and drainage ditches.

In order for farmers to have clarity as quickly as possible, the water edge contour was developed this summer, says birgit imhof of the water management office. The evaluation of the maps was done on the screen. One problem is that cards with different letters are used. Now some questions have arisen. "Farmers who have questions should contact us, and we will check it out." Currently many requests reach the office. "The waterfront backdrop will have to be touched up", she says. Objections that come to us, we will work through systematically." However, not all of them will be successful. "There are criteria by which a gewasser is to be classified as relevant". And with it a border strip becomes fallig.

The deputy head of the department, who is also responsible for the district of bad kissingen, cites an example. Because of the drought of the last years, some brooks, which even have a name, have fallen dry. "Nevertheless they remain a water." How long it will take to decide whether the respective objections are justified or not, she cannot say at the moment.

There is also uncertainty as to whether allotments are affected. In this regard, the office has made a request to the ministry. Originally it was said that only commercial gardeners were concerned. Now there is a ban on gardening and arable use. This must be clarified. There were still several things that had to be corrected step by step.



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