Ennsnahe Trasse road extension project during the 1990s, Styria, Austria

Fierce grassroots resistance, recourse to legal frameworks and the unexpected support of a corncrake marked the mobilizations against this controversial road extension project.


The fierce opposition against the road extension project ‘Ennsnahe Trasse’, located in the province of Styria, is an example of successful grassroots resistance against environmentally controversial infrastructure projects in Austria. Already in 1978, intentions to construct an expressway (S8) in the beautiful Ennstal failed due to the rise of the Austrian environmental movement [1;2]. Plans to extend the road network in the area through the Ennsnahe Trasse returned during the 1990s. Located in a conservation area (Landschaftsschutzgebiet) of high cultural and ecological value, the project caused however strong opposition from grassroots groups [3;4].

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Basic Data
NameEnnsnahe Trasse road extension project during the 1990s, Styria, Austria
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific Commoditiesmobility; traffic services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe complete project name was “Ennsnahe Trasse B 146”. The aim of this infrastructure project was to connect the National Road B146 with the Highway ‘Phyrnautobahn’ (A9). The route was to start at km 53,980 of the National Road. The conflictive part of this route was located between Trautenfels/Stainach and Liezen and had a length of 15km [1].
Project Area (in hectares)the conflictive part of the route had a length of 15km
Level of Investment (in USD)(the project never materialized)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population(the project never materialized)
Start Date1978
End Date07/07/2000
Relevant government actorsConstitutional office of the provincial government of Styria

Nature conservation authority of the provincial goverment of Styria

Former minister of traffic and economic affairs, Wolfgang Schüssel

Former minister of infrastructure Michael Schmid

and others
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNETT (Nein zur Ennsnahen Transittrasse), http://www.zukunft-ennstal.at/

Bürgerinitiative Schönes Ennstal, http://www.ennstalwiki.at/wiki/index.php/B%C3%BCrgerinitiative_Sch%C3%B6nes_Ennstal



Global 2000
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Public campaigns
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Referendum other local consultations
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesAlternative proposals to solve the traffic problem focused on the enhancement of the existing road infrastructure, instead of the construction of an entirely new expressway. Concrete proposals included, for example, the enhancement of the existing national road B146, or local solutions to reduce traffic impacts in close-by towns, such as through underground tunnel construction etc. They were proposed by the local citizens initiative NETT, together with other NGOs such as Global 2000 [4;5].
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The controversial project was stopped.
Sources and Materials

EU Flora Fauna Habitats (FFH) Directive
[click to view]

EU Birds directive
[click to view]

EU Natura 2000 framework
[click to view]


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

[5] Egerer, E. (1993). Ennsnahe Trasse - Sündenfall der steirischen Umweltpolitik? Gesetzesbrüche pflastern ihren Weg. Natur und Land 79 (1993) 2. (accessed online on 18.12.2017).
[click to view]


[2] Kleine Zeitung online (26.01.2006). Ennsnahe Trasse: eine Chronologie. (accessed online on 18.12.2017).
[click to view]

[4] TU Info Nr. 4c/93. Ennsnahe Trasse - eine unendliche Geschichte im 22sten Jahr. (accessed online on 18.12.2017).
[click to view]

[3] Grüne Archiv (30.07.2016). 212/366: Widerstand gegen die Ennsnahe Trasse. Weblog des Grünen Archivs zur Geschichte der Grünen und Alternativen in Österreich. (accessed online on 18.12.2017)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Demonstrations against the infrastructure project Source: http://diglib.tugraz.at/download.php?id=4eaec377ca246&location=browse
[click to view]

Newsarticle on the conflict
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (arnim "dot" scheidel "at" gmail "dot" com)
Last update12/01/2018