It took a long time, but now the decision is official: the environmental protection department of the state of Upper Austria has given the green light for exploratory drilling near Molln. The test drilling is intended to determine whether there is actually a gas deposit at the location. The first work will start in the coming days.
A gas test drilling could possibly be carried out by the ADX company in Molln near the Kalkalpen National Park. The nature conservation decision was positive. The state of Upper Austria and ADX confirmed a corresponding announcement from the environmental umbrella organization on Wednesday. It is now investigating a complaint with the state administrative court. “The nature conservation authority has examined the applicant’s comments and has concluded that the legal requirements for a positive decision have been met,” the office of nature conservation officer LHStv said. Manfred Haimbuchner (FPÖ) in response to an APA request.
Objections expected, but no postponement
ADX confirmed that all necessary permits have been granted. According to the company, any complaints against the 150-page decision would not have a suspensive effect. ADX Vie GmbH – a subsidiary of the Australian listed exploration company ADX Energy – wants to start gas test drilling in Molln (Kirchdorf district) this winter. Until now, there was no nature conservation permit for this. The exploratory drillings had already been approved under the Mining Act. “Preparations are already underway,” an ADX spokesperson told APA on Wednesday.
First step of a long process
Preparing the drilling site will take approximately six weeks, as will the actual drilling. The tests to be carried out afterwards would again take several weeks. Only then will we know whether and how much gas has been found. If gas is found, conservationists fear as many as 25 drilling sites in the area around the Kalkalpen National Park. ADX denied this and spoke of five to six drilling locations, which – just like a pipeline that would then be needed – would first have to be requested and approved.
President Franz Maier of the umbrella organization for the environment called on the state government to stop the “speculative, backward-looking fossil project.” “Any government that continues to invest in the expansion of fossil fuels is overexploiting nature, endangering Austria’s climate goals and therefore our livelihoods,” the government said in a press release. Conservationists had argued, among other things, for interventions in the landscape and six protected bat species, but also for the fact that the official message from the nature conservation authority was negative on some points.
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