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Celje suspension bridge clears project hurdles

Celje suspension bridge clears project hurdles

The Slovenian municipality is waiting for a building permit for the 505-metre footbridge

The municipality of Celje in Slovenia has obtained all the necessary approvals for the construction of a 505-metre suspension bridge between Grajski and Miklavški hrib and submitted an application for a building permit, reports Delo. Conceived as a tourist attraction, the Tibetan-style footbridge will be one of the longest of this type in the world.

Rough road behind

Mayor Bojan Šrot, who would later win his sixth term in office, tabled the first plans for the suspension bridge in February 2018. According to Delo, they had not been preceded by a public debate and the councillors got acquainted with the project only when it was presented to them by architect Nanda Korpnik

Soon afterwards, the municipality began consultations with stakeholders, with the Forest Service proving to be the main obstacle. The service said that the project could have a negative impact on the protected forest and its function, and the construction of a 1.2 metre wide access path on the very steep slope “would be a major encroachment on space".

Taking these objections into account, the municipality changed the access route and the Forest Service gave the go-ahead. In January 2020 the municipality concluded a contract worth EUR 219,600 with the company Ponting to prepare the project documentation for obtaining a building permit.

The outbreak of the Covid-pandemic temporarily put the freeze on the project. On 30 September 2021, the Celje administrative department received an application from the Celje municipality for a building permit. 

Unobtrusive intervention

The Ministry of Agriculture has issued a permit for a limited intervention in the protected forest. The municipality claims that the intervention will be as unobtrusive as possible, the visibility of the bridge will not spoil the landscape and the existing tourist and recreational infrastructure in the forest will be preserved.

The municipality has also settled all ownership issues related to the purchase of the plots around the bridge. The estimated cost of the project is about EUR 3.3 million, but it is still not known how it will be financed: through a public-private partnership, EU funds or a private investment. Therefore, a construction date has not been set yet.

Grumbles in the council

Left-wing members of the municipal council have attacked the project for its lack of transparency. Councillors Samo Seničar and Matija Kovač complain that such a multimillion-euro project that will significantly mark the appearance of Celje has been launched without a public tender or discussion. 

This project, they claim, has never featured in the city’s development programme. To push it through, the previous council has used a loophole in an article of the decree on spatial planning conditions which envisages the possibility of construction of "bridges and viaducts" in the area.

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