Net zero consumption in land use: this will be an uphill battle

Voice editor Uwe Ralf Heer (center) moderated the exciting discussion with Professor Dr. Stefan Siedentop, scientific director of the ILS and professor at the TU Dortmund (left), Klaus Holaschke, mayor of the city of Eppingen and vice president of the city council (next door) as well as Klaus Mandel, director of the Heilbronn-Regional Association Franconia (right) ) and Nicole Razavi, Minister of Development and Housing. Photo: Ralf Seidel

Ensure prosperity and protect the climate. Promote the economy and conserve nature. Enhance mobility and protect the environment. Growing food and expanding renewable energy sources. Create housing and stop urban sprawl. These goals have clashed more and more violently since the great crises. How should the space be used in the future? In the countryside, in the region, in the districts, in the communities? That was the subject of a fascinating discussion of the citizens’ initiative for each region Heilbronn-Franken at the Carmen-Würth-Forum in Künzelsau on Friday, led by editor-in-chief Uwe Ralf Heer.

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The resource space is finite

Rural areas in particular came into the picture. As the battle for space will be all the more intense, there will be more wind turbines and solar systems. And more local agriculture must contribute to food security without jeopardizing biological diversity. One thing is clear: what one asks is not available to the other. Because even when it is said over and over that too much space is being used, one thing should not be forgotten: space is a finite resource.

squaring the circle

Professor Dr Stefan Siedentop is a proven expert in spatial planning in Germany. He gave a keynote speech prior to the panel discussion. Photo: Ralf Seidel

It is therefore about finding a new balance that meets all requirements and interests. The same sometimes already today “of the squaring of the circle”, says Klaus Mandel, director of the regional association Heilbronn-Franken. What will happen if the green-black government of Baden-Württemberg rewrites the “state development plan”? The existing one was adopted in 2002 and needs urgent updating. Nicole Razavi, Minister of Regional Development and Housing, sees “completely new land requirements” emerging after the corona crisis and the war in Ukraine “that almost caused an earthquake” “and no stone was left unturned”. Not to mention the climate crisis. The politician knows: “We have to drill into thick planks.”

Surface pressure is huge

Essentially, it’s about stopping the expansion of settlement and transportation areas without slowing down the economy and prosperity. These areas should therefore be used more intensively, more innovatively and more cooperatively. For the benefit of nature and the environment and the generation of sustainable energy and agricultural products. The surface pressure is already enormous today. And will continue to increase if no new space is used by 2035. That’s how the Greens and the CDU want it in the country, and the coalition agreement contains the promise of ‘net zero’. Infrastructure that is no longer needed will also be demolished and the sealing will be stopped altogether.

“Less ideology, more pragmatism”

Klaus Holaschke, mayor of the city of Eppingen and vice-chairman of the city council, is skeptical. “The goal of net zero consumption will exacerbate conflicts. I don’t see how we can meet all the requirements without new space.” His credo is: “Less ideology, more pragmatism.” Economy.” Despite ongoing digitization, “things will have to run parallel for quite some time,” says Razavi.

ProRegion event in Kunzelsau | Künzelsau | 11/11/2022 | 15 images | Photographer: Ralf Seidel

Lack of internal development is a pain point

However, there is no way to “intensify all efforts to activate more areas in the city”. She has hit a sore point that takes up a lot of space in the debate. Especially in rural areas such as Hohenlohe there are gaps between buildings and there are vacancies in communities and villages, while new areas are designated on the outskirts: with generous spaces for single-family homes. Are the municipalities doing too little to stimulate living in the city centres? Stefan Siedentop protects her. “Many communities want to do a lot of good, but are held back by federal law,” says the scientific director of the Institute for State and Urban Development Research and professor at the Technical University of Dortmund. Because: “It is hardly possible to mobilize fallow land if the owners say no.” Siedentop is campaigning to change this legally, up to and including “theoretical expropriation”.

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Federal policy in service

Minister Nicole Razavi does not want to go that far: “First of all, it is important to use all other options” – and make federal politicians responsible for legislative changes. “There are plenty of ideas for interior development.” Modular building models, for example with flexible use in time, “or by building something on one floor on top of the supermarket”. Multi-storey housing or rental housing should be strengthened in order to make better use of the space for residential purposes. Razavi describes how this is possible using an example from her hometown of Göppingen. In one community, “only five single-family plots were planned”, but a residential area has subsequently been created in the area, with significantly more people having space. “This is exactly the kind of thinking we need, with no tail wagging.”

Social reconsideration required

The event of the citizens’ initiative by region on land use took place on Friday evening at the Carmen-Würth-Forum in Künzelsau. Photo: Ralf Seidel

On the other hand, the minister demands: “We need a social rethink.” And also calls her home district Göppingen. “There, four construction projects were rejected in referendums.” The high pressure for change is always accompanied by a low willingness to change. “But Baden-Württemberg will be an open-air museum and not a place of the future”. Razavi is in favor of “abolition of the objection procedure for housing” – just like for construction projects in the field of renewable energy.

Involve citizens more? Pro and contra

Stefan Siedentop advocates involving citizens as early as possible. Otherwise they would feel left behind. Referenda are always an indication that “there has been too little discussion beforehand”. One solution is “citizen workshops if the planning and future is still open”. Nicole Razavi doesn’t like it much: “Then there is so much sand in the gears very early on that we can’t make any progress at all”. Klaus Holaschke sees it the same way. And Klaus Mandel agrees: “We always come across well-cultivated egoism. But there is no lifelong right to a good view during life.” Talking to people is important. “But you can also arrive at a result in the public interest.”

Huge task ahead

Stefan Siedentop builds a bridge. And is in favor of finding a “balance” between “acceleration and centralization” on the one hand and involving people at an early stage on the other hand in planning and executing construction projects. After all, “destructive attitudes of denial” cannot be explained away. And so it eventually became all too clear: the topic of “living in the future” alone contains so much fuel in the tension between internal and external development that the reorganization of land use in this country is becoming a real Giants task.

Background: state development plan

By 2035, the green-and-black state government wants to ensure that no new land is used in the state. That is stated in the coalition agreement. The new State Development Plan (LEP), which is now being updated, is an essential part of achieving this net-zero target. The existing one dates from 2002 and does not include the greatly increased importance of renewable energy sources, nor the serious consequences of digitization, for example for residential and working areas. “The twelve regional associations are the most important partners for us in this process,” said State Minister responsible Nicole Razavi. One is for Heilbronn-Franken. “We look at the country from a bird’s eye view and put a kind of course book about it, and the associations then have to implement it precisely with the municipalities.” She sees completely new opportunities, especially for rural areas.

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