Construction workers were due to resume work this month on the Via Baltica highway through the ancient
The Commission asked the European Court of Justice to issue a temporary injunction preventing work in the valley, forcing the Polish government to back down before the court hears the case.
The Rospuda Valley, close to the Lithuanian border in north-east Poland, hosts a treasure trove of wildlife, including Lynx, Otter, Wolf and more than 20 rare or threatened bird species – all within 750 metres of the route the Polish government wants the road to take.
Dr Helen Byron, International Officer at the RSPB, said: “It is impossible to stress just how precious the
“There is an alternative to the Rospuda Valley route which should now be considered because it would cause far less environmental damage but still by-pass the towns currently blighted by heavy traffic.
“If the valley is eventually bulldozed, a devastating precedent will be set. Other irreplaceable sites threatened by the Via Baltica will be in the firing line while other countries that increasingly see protected sites as obstacles to development will be encouraged to test
Land has already been cleared either side of the
Elk and Beavers are common in the valley, where 20 orchid species are found. Dr Byron said: “It would be difficult to find a better site for wildlife in Europe, yet
The 277-mile Via Baltica will run from
An environmental assessment for the Polish section of the road is still underway but the government had pushed ahead with the Rospuda Valley route because it took traffic away from the town of Augustow, which is south of the valley. The shorter alternative would do that too and could be funded by the EU, unlike the Valley proposal.
The terrain of the valley means a 500-metre viaduct would be built on stilts planted in concrete sunk deep into rare and unspoilt peat bogs in the
Izabela Flor, Director of the Polish Bird Protection Society, OTOP, said: “This case has developed into a real test case for the enforcement of European legislation in
Photo: Poland's ancient forests are home to Pygmy Owl and many other species (Steve Young/www.birdsonfilm.com)