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Hydroelectric barrages along the Mur River, Styria, Austria

No more barrages! Hydroelectric power plants along the Mur River in Graz, Austria, provoke strong mobilizations by local citizens groups


The Mur River passing through the city of Graz, Austria, has turned into a contested area characterized by ongoing conflicts between local citizens group and the renewable energy industry. Already in the past, plenty of hydroelectric barrages were constructed along the river. The currently planned construction of another series of 5 middle-sized hydroelectric barrages would further drastically reduce - over a distance of 130km - the remaining free flowing sections to distances of no more than 5km, while negatively affecting local ecosystems, citizens as well as recreational areas [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hydroelectric barrages along the Mur River, Styria, Austria
State or province:Styria
Location of conflict:Graz
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Dams and water distribution conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

A series of 5 new hydroelectric barrages are planned along the Mur River in Styria, located between the cities Leoben and Spielfeld [1]. Two of them are already constructed; “Kraftwerk (KW) Gössendorf -18,75MW and KW Kalsdorf - 18,5MW (near to completion). The involved companies Verbund AG and Energie Steiermark AG started project planning at least in August 2005 or before [2].

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Level of Investment:178,000,000 $ (two barrages: KW Gössendorf and KW Kalsdorf)
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/08/2005
Company names or state enterprises:Verbund AG Österreich from Austria - energy
Energy Steiermark AG (EStAG) from Austria - energy
Andritz Group from Austria
Electricité de France International (EDF) from France
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Investment Bank (EIB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Local NGOs: Plattform "Rettet die Mur"; Verein Lebensraum Graz Süd.
NGOs involved in the information campaign: OEAV; WWF;;; Verband der österreichischen Arbeiter-Fischerei-Vereine; Naturschutzbund Steiermark; lebendige Flüsse; Fisch & Wasser Verband; LFV Steiermark; Umwelt Dachverband; ÖKF
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:The central proposal of the local citizen group "Rettet die Mur" is to oppose and stop the further construction of the hydroelectric barrages.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Two barrages are already constructed and changed significantly local ecosystems.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Regulatory Framework for Water Bodies in Austria (Wasserrahmenrichline) (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

Environmental Protection Law of Styria, Austria (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Lemmerer K., Scheidel, A., Spreitzer, M.L., 2006. Die Murauen bei Thondorf - eine historische zeitgenössische und entwicklungsorientierte Betrachtung. Bachelor thesis. Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Webpage of the local citizen group "Rettet die Mur" (save the Mur river). (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

[3] ORF news online article (26/04/2013) "Mur-Kraftwerk-Studie: Bau sorgt für Feinstaub" (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

[5] ORF news online article (28/09/12) "Wasserkraftwerk Gössendorf offiziell eröffnet" (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

[6] ORF news online article (30/04/2013) "Neue UVP-Runde zu Murkraftwerk ohne Ergebnis" (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Kleine Zeitung online article (09/05/2014) "Gegner der Mur-Staustufe fordern endgültiges "Aus"" (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

Andritz group publication
[click to view]

EIB funding
[click to view]

[4] Kleine Zeitung article online (07/09/13): "Murkraftwerk Graz geht der Saft aus" (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video showing the demonstrations against the barrages (accessed 03/03/2015)
[click to view]

"Rettet die Mur"'s Video channel
[click to view]

Other documents

Demonstrations against the construction of further barrages Source:
[click to view]

Public actions against the hydroelectric barrages Source:
[click to view]

Cutting protected trees Source: Author
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update04/03/2015
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