Bad Honnef Rhein-Sieg district approves R(h)einspaziert festival on Grafenwerth
Bad Honnef · The Rhine-Sieg district has now approved the open-air festival R(h)einspaziert on the Rhine island Grafenwerth in Bad Honnef with conditions. For the time being, BUND is not sure whether it will file a complaint. However, the environmental organisation does not view the festival as critically as previous concerts.
The Bad Honnef Stadtjugendring has now received mail from the Siegburg District Office: it is the much longed-for so-called individual permit for R(h)einspaziert, the open-air festival day on Saturday, 13 August, on the Rhine island of Grafenwerth in Bad Honnef. The association, which has been organising the open-air festival for 30 years, submitted the application on 8 January. However, R(h)einspaziert also became the subject of a legal dispute about the island as a venue.
Marcelo Peerenboom, managing director of the Stadtjugendring Bad Honnef, was all the more relieved: "We are very happy that we now have planning security. We can now go full throttle with the planning and are looking forward to a great festival," said Peerenboom. "Together with the people of Bad Honnef, we want to celebrate 30 years of R(h)einspaziert in a fitting manner." The Stadtjugendring will release details of the programme "shortly".
Nature conservation authority of the district approves with conditions
However, the approval by the department of the nature conservation authority of the Rhein-Sieg district did not come without conditions, as Rita Lorenz, press spokeswoman of the Rhein-Sieg district, told the GA upon request. According to the district, music performances during the festival day must be limited to the time between 6 pm and 11.30 pm. After 11.30 p.m., the stage lighting must also be reduced to such an extent that it is sufficient for "the amount still needed for dismantling". And: set-up and dismantling work is only permitted from Friday, 12 August, to Monday, 15 August.
Achim Baumgartner, spokesman for the Rhine-Sieg district group of BUND, left open whether the BUND district group will legally challenge the permit that has now been granted. However, he admitted that the environmental association is far less critical of this type of individual event than the Grafenwerth concerts planned for June and July, which organiser Ernst-Ludwig Hartz had moved to Cologne and Bonn. "However, the district would have to issue a very poor decision for us to have to have this clarified again in court," Baumgartner said. "The court has already given indications that could be taken to heart. The traditional event R(h)einspaziert has a much easier time being approved because there is an explicit regulation for it in the ordinance," said the BUND district spokesperson.
The approval by the Rhein-Sieg district was preceded by an unusual legal act. The district had already declared to the Cologne Administrative Court (VG) a week ago on Wednesday that it intended to prohibit the festival on Grafenwerth if the organiser would hold the colourful concert day without an existing exception or exemptions.
BUND district group declares urgent application settled
As a result, the BUND district group declared that it had "settled" the pending urgent application at the Administrative Court for this event, as Baumgartner said. "The district has complied with the content of the emergency application without a court decision," Baumgartner continued.
BUND also welcomed the relocation of the two concerts planned for July by French singer Zaz and PInk Floyd co-founder Nick Mason to Grafenwerth. "This will create space for an orderly exchange of content, which is possible within the framework of the ordinance on the island," Baumgartner explained
The background to the Rhein-Sieg district's statement to the VG goes back to BUND's first complaint before the Administrative Court. At that time, the environmental association had appealed to the court to have it examine whether a licensing procedure for the five intended concerts on the Bad Honnef Rhine island was necessary at all. "BUND was convinced that such a permit procedure would have to be carried out, the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis was of the opinion that this was not the case, as it could be based on the landscape protection ordinance," explained Rita Lorenz, press officer of the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis.
In this regard, the court had decided - in summary proceedings without further examination - that a permit was "probably necessary" and ordered the district to prevent all unauthorised planned events. "This applies until a permit is granted," Lorenz said. The district had also provided such a procedure for R(h)einspaziert. "The cancellation had to be issued because there is no formal permit yet," the spokesperson explained.
Dialogue on the future of the Rhine island Grafenwerth
And: With the abundance of requests to speak on the topic of Grafenwerth and especially on the cancellation and relocation of the concerts, there were - especially from politicians - some who suggested to enter into dialogue with BUND to talk about what is possible on Grafenwerth. This dialogue has - in parts - already begun, explained Achim Baumgartner in response to a GA enquiry: there had been a concrete (first) meeting with the Greens Bad Honnef, and the CDU member of the state parliament Jonathan Grunwald had a discussion with the BUND state leader Holger Sticht also with the aim of initiating further talks, Baumgartner described. "We have not yet heard back from the city of Bad Honnef and the district on our own written offer of talks of 10 June, and the district has cancelled for the time being," said the BUND district spokesperson. He is also in contact with the City Youth Council and hopes "for a concrete exchange for the future".
Original text: Mario Quadt
Translation: Mareike Graepel