"That our project was chosen as one of the five finalists at all, and that we are among the five best of 35 finalists, and that no other energy providers were among the 25 best in all categories - that’s what we at VERBUND are especially proud of," exults Gerd Frik, Head of Power Plant Construction and responsible for fish bypasses, about VERBUND’s 14.2 kilometre long fish bypass. "That the LIFE+ Ottensheim-Wilhering fish bypass project is viewed so positively at the EU level and also nationally is in itself honour enough. VERBUND is not just accepting its responsibility as dictated by the Water Framework Directive, but tries to go beyond that by creating as much added value for nature with its ecological projects as possible, with this being an excellent example.
VERBUND the only energy company among the finalists
Out of 75 eligible applicants from the entire EU, 25 finalists were selected, including Austria with VERBUND’s Ottensheim-Wilhering fish bypass. The Natura2000 Award presentation ceremony by the European Commission took place in the Berlaymont Building in Brussels. "This alone is already a fantastic accolade for VERBUND, because it was the only energy company at all to make it to the finals," comments project manager David Oberlerchner.
This recognition for the VERBUND project by the European Union, with the nomination and award ceremony, speaks for VERBUND’s strong ecological commitment - because not only is the Ottensheim-Wilhering power plant on the Danube becoming barrier-free, but also additional habitats are being created for fish along the Danube. The idea of linking the fish bypass with already existing renaturation projects was commended as an important element in the campaign to realise the Danube’s good ecological potential.
The Imperial Eagle wins
In the category "Conservation", MME BirdLife Hungary won the Natura2000 Conservation Award with the project "Partnership to stop the poisoning of imperial eagles".
The European Commission’s Natura2000 prizes honour the time, the dedication and the efforts that Europeans have invested in nature conservation as part of the Natura2000 network of conservation areas. The prizes are intended to strengthen awareness of Natura 2000 and the role that the network plays for conservation of the natural heritage and support for social and economic well-being.
The selected finalists come from Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Among the finalists are several transnational projects, including participation by Turkey, and a project in the EU as a whole.