The city of Dresden in eastern Germany has lost its position as a World Heritage Site because of the construction of a four-lane bridge across the river Elbe.
The Dresden Elbe valley won heritage status from UNESCO five years ago for its 12-mile stretch of landscape, which incorporates the city centre and features Baroque palaces, churches, opera houses and museums.
Conservationists say the four-lane bridge will be a blot on the unique Elbe valley and is sited in a particularly sensitive spot, near the old city, from where it will be seen.
Construction of the bridge began in 2007. Supporters of the project say it’s essential to reduce traffic congestion. An alternative plan for a tunnel was rejected for cost reasons.
UNESCO took the decision at its meeting in the Spanish city of Seville. Areas added to the list of World Heritage Sites include the Dolomite mountains in Italy and the Wadden Sea along the coasts of Germany and the Netherlands.
The Wadden Sea coastline is a wetlands area rich in wildlife. The Dolomites, in Italy’s northern Alps, was praised as ‘one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere’.
Each World Heritage Site is the property of the state on whose territory it’s located, but it’s considered in the interests of the international community to preserve each one.
by Andy Moreton