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Lobau highway construction, Vienna, Austria

Planned highway project opposed by local citizens’ initiatives, environmental and climate justice groups and environmental NGOs. The main project was dismissed in 2021, yet the conflict intensified with the start of the construction of a subproject.


The Lobau highway construction project is located in the North-East of Vienna and the adjacent region of Lower Austria, with a length of 19 kilometres excluding two associated subprojects [1]. The project got first proposed in 1994 with the goal to complete the highway ring road around the Austrian capital including a sixth Danube crossing [4].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lobau highway construction, Vienna, Austria
State or province:Vienna/Lower Austria
Location of conflict:Vienna
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Lobau highway would be 19km long (including a 9km long tunnel under the national park of the Lobau floodplains). This does not include the connceting highway subprojects like the Stadtstraße Aspern [1]. The highway and its subprojects would each consist of two lanes plus emergency lanes on each side [24]. Depending on different scenarios the S1 Lobau highway might lead to a decrease in flow in vehicles on adjacent highways but will lead to a total increase in average flow of vehicles in Vienna [25]. This will lead to an estimated increase in annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 105.000 tonnes for Vienna [24]. The land consumption for the whole project, including its subprojects “Stadtstraße Aspern” and “S1 Spange Seestadt Aspern” will be about 194 hectares which equals the part of the historical first district of Vienna within the Ringstraße (Street where prior to 1850 walls separated the city from its suburbs.) [26]. Officially the whole project was estimated to cost about 1,9 billion euro, but estimations of the green party (3,5 billion euro) and of scientists of the Technical University (4,5 billion euro) calculated much higher numbers [26]. These costs will be paid partially by users via tolls but the main part will be paid by the taxpayer since the highway project is carried out by the ASFINAG, the 100 percent publicly owned stock company responsible for the construction and maintenance of all highways and express roads in Austria, in depth with more than 11 billion euro as for 2019 [26].

Project area:~200
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,000,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:100,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2003
Company names or state enterprises: Autobahnen- und Schnellstraßen-Finanzierungs-Aktiengesellschaft (ASFINAG) from Austria - construction company
STRABAG (STRABAG) from Austria
PORR AG from Austria - construction of subproject "city street Aspern"
Relevant government actors:City of Vienna (as by 2022 governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals)
Climate Ministry (Minister is L. Gewessler of the Greens)
Parlament (only instance that can change the Federal Roads Law and erase the plan to build the Lobau highway from it. Current majority of Conservatives, Social Democrats and Right Wing Freedom Party supports the highway project)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:LobauBleibt!
Extinction Rebellion Austria
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
project partially (potentially just temporarily) suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:Building new infrastructure and increasing safety for active mobility (walking, cycling); expansion of and denser intevals for public transport (bus, tram, reactivation of old train-tracks) ; measures to reduce the incentive to use cars (speed limits, higher parking costs, transformation of low-use streets, etc.) could transform mobility patterns and serve as an alternative to the highway project which would just increase the already strong car-dependence of the inhabitants of the transdanubian areas of Vienna.
All these and many more detailled measures have been introduced already by environmental justice groups and the local Green Party [19].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the climate ministry had dismissed the main part of the project, this decision could be revoked once party affiliation of the climate ministry changes after the next election in 2024. Considering this, the subproject "Stadtstraße Aspern" as a connecting highway for the Lobau highway is currently under construction on the order of the city council of Vienna.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Juridical Authorization of Lobau highway after the EIA law (officially "S1 S1 Wiener Außenring Schnellstraße, Abschnitt Schwechat – Süßenbrunn) 26.03.2015 (In German)
[click to view]

Juridical decision of Austrian Federal Administrative Court 13.05.2018 confirming Juridical Authorization of Lobau highway from 2015 (In German)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Weber, Nikolai (2020). Politisch-ökologische Konfliktanalyse des Autobahn- und Tunnelprojekts S1

Schwechat-Süßenbrunn (‚Lobautunnel)‘. Master Thesis. University of Vienna

Political-ecological conflict analysis of the Lobau highway project (In German)
[click to view]

[3] Umweltbundesamt: Klimaschutzbericht 2021 (Climate protection report 2021; in German)
[click to view]

[25] Knoflacher et al. (2019): Auswirkungen der Lobauautobahn auf die Stadt Wien. Institut für Verkehrswissenschaften TU Wien.

Consequences of the Lobau highway for the City of Vienna. Institute of Transport Science, Technical University Vienna (In German)
[click to view]

[2] SystemChange,NotClimateChange!: Umweltbewegung und Wissenschaft präsentieren Lobauer Erklärung (Presentation of Lobauer Erklärung; in German). 05.10.2021
[click to view]

[4] ORF: Der lange Weg zum Lobautunnel (History of Lobau highway project; in German). 23.05.2018
[click to view]

[5] VIRUS Presseaussendung: S1-Lobauautobahn&Co - schlecht fürs Klima - mehr Straßenverkehr (NGO VIRUS press release; in German). 24.09.2019
[click to view]

[6] ORF (2006): Probebohrungen in der Lobau gestoppt (Test drillings stopped; in German). 27.11.2006
[click to view]

[7] Wiener Zeitung: Umweltschützer orten Mängel bei UVP. 03.03.2014
[click to view]

[8] Der Standard: Projekt Lobautunnel muss erst Klimacheck standhalten. 01.07.2021
[click to view]

[10] Standpunkt (2021): Wie STRABAG und PORR von der Stadtstraße profitieren (How STRABAG and PORR, the two biggest Austrian construction companies profit from the city highway Aspern; in German) 19.04.2022
[click to view]

[11] Logistik Express (2019): WKÖ-Kopf: "Ja des Höchstgerichts zur dritten Piste bringr wichtige Impulse für den Wirtschaftsstandort" (WKÖ press release supporting the approval of the federal administrative for the expansion of the Airport of Vienna with a third runway; in German) 18.03.2019
[click to view]

[12] SystemChange,NotClimateChange!: Presseaussendung: Klimaaktivist:innen schlagen Zelte auf Lobau-Baustelle auf (SCNCC press release: climate activists squat Lobau highway construction site; in German) 30.08.2021
[click to view]

[13] BMK: Klimacheck: Die Evaluierung zum ASFINAG-Bauprogramm liegt vor (Climate Ministry: Evaluation of ASFINAG highway building projects comes to conclusion to dismiss Lobau highway and other planned highway projects; in German) 01.12.2021
[click to view]

[14] SystemChange,NotClimateChange!: Press release: Suppression of protest: City of Vienna threatens young climate activists with huge lawsuits. 11.12.2021
[click to view]

[15] DerStandard: Lobau: Organisationen geben Stadt 48 Stunden für Rücknahme der Klagsdrohungen (Amnesty views threat of lawsuits as violation of human rights; in German) 15.12.2021
[click to view]

[16] LobauBleibt: Presseaussendung: Brandanschlag auf LobauBleibt-Besetzung (Press release arson attack on LobauBleibt squat; in German) 31.12.2021
[click to view]

[17] ORF: Wien überrascht mit Protestcamp-Räumung (City council ordered eviction of squatted construction site; in German) 01.02.2022
[click to view]

[18] MeinBezirk: Kein Ermittlungsverfahren nach umstrittener Polizeiaktion (No investigation procedure after video showing police violence at eviction of squatted construction site; in German) 22.04.2022
[click to view]

[19] Grüne Vision (Mobility vision for the "Donauststadt" by Green Party; in German). Retrieved the 25.05.2022
[click to view]

[20] TheWorldnews: Aktivistin beendet nach Kollaps ihren Hungerstreik. 17.3.2022
[click to view]

[21] "Beton-Ludwig" im Wiener Rathauspark enthüllt. 10.02.2022
[click to view]

[22] Wiener SPÖ-Zentrale mit Autoreifen-Blockade konfrontiert. 27.11.2021
[click to view]

[23] SystemChange, NotClimateChange!: Widerstand gegen die Lobau-Autobahn (History of resistance against the Lobau highway) Retrieved the 01.06.2022
[click to view]

[24] Greenpeace: Faktencheck Lobau-Autobahn Evidenzbasierte Entkräftung der sieben gängigsten Mythen

rund um die Lobau-Autobahn (Greenpeace' revision of seven most common myths regarding Lobau highway; in German). Retrieved the 24.05.2022
[click to view]

[26] WienSchauen: Lobautunnel: Vollgas in die Vergangenheit. 02.07.2021
[click to view]

[27] Falter.Morgen: Kampf um die Stadtstraße. 17.08.2021
[click to view]

Lobau bleibt. Press reviews list of "Lobau bleibt" climate justice movement since the first squatting of the highway construction site on 30.08.2021 (In German)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[28] Telegram Channel "Lobau bleibt". Exctinction Rebellion; Fridays for Future; Jugendrat; SystemChange, NotClimateChange!
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Fynn Menzel [email protected] SystemChange,NotClimateChange! [email protected]
Last update05/05/2022
Conflict ID:6010
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