Last update:

Occupation of the Hainburger Au to resist unsustainable hydro-power development, Austria

During the 1980s, the Hainburger Au was successfully defended against a proposed hydropower plant. This marked a turning point in Austrian democracy and environmental politics.


The Hainburger Au is a unique riparian ecosystem located along the Danube river, next to the town Hainburg, Lower Austria. More than three decades ago, the area was successfully defended against a proposed hydropower plant, which marked a turning point in Austrian democracy and environmental politics. 

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Occupation of the Hainburger Au to resist unsustainable hydro-power development, Austria
State or province:Lower Austria
Location of conflict:Hainburg
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Planned investment size was about 930 million Euro [1].

See more
Project area:680
Level of Investment for the conflictive project930,000,000€
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:28/04/1983
End of the conflict:02/01/1985
Company names or state enterprises:Donaukraft AG from Austria - constructor
Relevant government actors:Fred Sinowatz (former Chancellor)
Günter Haiden (former minister of agriculture)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Aktionsgemeinschaft gegen das Kraftwerk Hainburg
Austrian National Student Union (Österreichische Hochschülerschaft - Alternativreferat)
WWF Austria
Global 2000
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
the area was subsequently turned into a protected area
Proposal and development of alternatives:Ten years later, the area became part of the 'Donau-Auen National Park'.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The project was stopped.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Gutschik, Reinhold ; Horvath, Patrick ; Weinzierl, Rupert: Konflikte um Infrastrukturprojekte in Österreich : Erkenntnisse für Politik und Gesellschaft. In: SWS-Rundschau 47 (2007), 2, pp. 218-242.
[click to view]

E. Stenitzer, Der Konflikt um Hainburg, 1994
[click to view]

[2] Wikipedia on the occupation of the Hainburger Au (accessed 11.12.2017)
[click to view]

[3] ORF online news article (8.12.2014; Gerald Heidegger): „Das wärmende Gefühl des Zusammenstehens“. (accessed online 11.12.2017).
[click to view]

[4] Erinnerungsort Wien: "Neue soziale Bewegungen - Besetzung der Hainburger Au". (accessed online on 11.12.2017)
[click to view]

[5] Erster Wiener Protestwanderweg (accessed online: 11.12.2017)
[click to view]

[6] 'Hainburger-Au-Besetzung (english), AEIOU, in: Austria-Forum, das Wissensnetz. 25. März 2016'. (Accessed online: 11.12.2017)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Austrian TV news video on the violent clashes from 1984
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (arnim "dot" scheidel "at" gmail "dot" com)
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3183
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.