LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn: preparatory work for bypass river at the Braunau-Simbach power plant

11/12/2021Braunau/Simbach

Initial work for ecological measures for connecting waterways, wetland dynamics and habitats on land and in the water over a length of approx. 3.0 km

Based on the experiences of the consistency and habitat project at the Ering-Frauenstein power plant, VERBUND has submitted a similar project in the area surrounding the Braunau-Simbach power plant for approval. Between kilometres 63.0 and 60.6 on the Bavarian bank of the Inn, the aim is to connect waterways, make wetlands more dynamic and create habitats on land and in the water. In order to harmonise the implementation of this ecological measure – which is part of the LIFE project “LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn” – as well as possible with conservation and environmental protection, substitute and alternative habitats have already been created for many different species and demonstrably colonised by them. In another step over the winter months, vegetation is now being cleared from the area through which the bypass river will eventually run.
 
In the LIFE project “LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn”, VERBUND and its partners have jointly designed the ecology of the riverscape on the Lower Inn, which will be realised together in the coming years. These include near-natural bypass rivers at the Inn power plants at Braunau-Simbach and Egglfing-Obernberg as well as the creation of further waterbody habitat in the areas around the Inn power plants between Braunau-Simbach and Schärding-Neuhaus. VERBUND project leader Johannes Wesemann: “We have shown that hydropower and the highest requirements for ecological standards are not a contradiction. We now want not only to connect waterways here, but also to create habitats – motivated by many positive experiences from successful projects, such as those at the Ering-Frauenstein power plant
or on the Danube in Austria.”
 
Waterway connection and habitat

The project in the area of the Braunau-Simbach power plant is currently in the approval phase. To enable aquatic life to pass around the structure, a new dynamically fed bypass river watercourse is being constructed from the power plant’s headwaters (Inn kilometre 63.0) to the tailwaters (Inn kilometre 60.6). Apart from connecting the waterways, this will create new flowing water habitat in the long term which can be used by all specifies of fish in all stages of life. New habitats are also being created on land, as newly formed gravel banks are especially popular with gravel-breeding birds.
 
Early measures
While the overall project is still at the approval stage, VERBUND has applied for permission to carry out early measures. These have been approved. Thus substitute and alternative habitats have already been created in the last few months. With the goal of settling, in particular, animals from the area of the future waterway. Once these substitute habitats have been accepted and populated, vegetation clearance will begin. In particular, trees and large shrubs have to be removed before the spring arrives – well before the bird breeding season begins. This will ensure that the project area is prepared and the project can be carried out promptly after approval is given. The plan is to complete the overall project in 2024 at the latest. Costs are currently estimated at around €7m.
 
The project is being funded by the EU LIFE programme as part of the “LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn” project (LIFE 19 NAT/DE/000087). It is also closely intertwined with other projects for improving the interaction between hydropower and ecology, in which VERBUND cooperates on the implementation. These include the Interreg project “INNsieme”, in which the banks of the Inn are currently being reconstructed in the area of the Mattig estuary, as well as the Interreg project “StreamScapes”, in which the estuary of the Simbach in Simbach am Inn was redesigned on the basis of ecological viewpoints.

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