October 2 - The Federal Administrative Court (FAC) in Leipzig has made a decision to delay the deepening and widening of the navigation channel on the Lower and Outer Elbe.

The FAC adjourned the proceedings by the BUND and NABU environmental associations against the plan approval concerning the dredging of the lower and outer stretches of the river Elbe, until the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg has reached a decision regarding a pending referral of the interpretive ruling on the Water Framework Directive.

The FAC emphasised that although the plan approval is burdened by various shortcomings with regards to its environmental impact and habitats directive assessment, these shortcomings can be addressed, and will not lead to the revocation of plan approval.

Port of Hamburg Marketing executive board members Axel Mattern and Ingo Egloff released a statement expressing their respect for the FAC's decision, despite regretting that once again time will be lost and that no decisive relaxation of the restrictions of ship draft and breadth currently in force can yet be implemented.

The statement added that ten years of planning and authorisation procedures have been a difficult time for the Port of Hamburg's customers, shipping companies and firms operating in the port. Mattern and Egloff stressed that the primary objective remains the rapid and carefully implementation of expansion measures.

Against the background of an increasing number of calls by mega-ships, access from the sea via the Elbe is of vital importance for the Port of Hamburg and the companies based there and in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.

Moreover, said the statement, distinctly improved accessibility is also urgently needed for all those industrial and trading concerns engaged in worldwide foreign trade that use Germany's largest universal port for their exports and imports.