Protest against Porsche Annual General Meeting: Forest protection instead of a race track!

ROBIN WOOD demands the cancellation of the expansion of the Porsche test track in Italy and the permanent protection of the Arneo forest / Open letter to politicians in Italy

07. Juni 2024

The pressure on Porsche to stop the planned expansion of a car test track in Italy is growing. Environmentalists from Germany and Italy are also campaigning for this today on the occasion of the virtual Annual General Meeting of Porsche Aktiengesellschaft. Yesterday evening, activists from ROBIN WOOD and the Custodi Bosco D'Arneo alliance protested together in front of the Porsche showroom in Stuttgart (Baden-Württemberg), the city where Porsche's headquarters is located. Today, ROBIN WOOD also published an open letter to the presidents of the Italian region of Puglia and the province of Lecce and to the mayors of the municipalities of Nardò and Porto Cesareo to urge them to finally cancel the project. In the letter, more than 20 forest and environmental protection initiatives from Europe and around the world call for the final cancellation of the project.

"The forest that is to be cleared for the expansion of the Porsche racetrack is protected by the EU as a Natura 2000 site. In our open letter, we appeal to the politicians of the affected region in Italy: Ensure the implementation of existing EU law to protect nature! Do everything in your power to protect the Bosco D'Arneo in the long term! Resist the pressure from an international car company to put profit interests above environmental protection!" says Jana Ballenthien from ROBIN WOOD.

The Bosco D'Arneo is a healthy and intact forest - a rarity in southern Italy. According to EU law, it may only be touched if the planned measure serves the common good. However, even the EU Commission doubts this. According to information from the alliance, EU Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius has asked the Italian government to provide further evidence of the ‘public interest’ in the project. The planned clearing of the completely healthy Arneo forest has therefore been halted - but only temporarily for six months. 

"The destruction and concreting of forest areas for luxury cars has no benefit for the general public," says Eberhard Linckh from ROBIN WOOD Stuttgart. "We need intact forests to protect the climate, biodiversity and health. That is why the test center must not be expanded inside the forest . The protection of the Bosco D'Arneo must be ensured in the long term!"

“Our Bosco d’Arneo did not emerge in one day. We will not allow a plan that was created in one day to wipe out this forest. Our message to Porsche is clear: ‘Stop the Bulldozers!’”, says a press statement by the Bosco D’Arneo alliance.

To compensate for the deforestation, Porsche wants to plant new tree seedlings on 600 hectares. These would have to be artificially irrigated for decades in order to grow under the worsening climatic conditions in Apulia. Whether an intact ecosystem would emerge after many decades is highly questionable. Enormous quantities of groundwater would be required to irrigate the seedlings. This would significantly increase the salinisation of the groundwater in the region due to seawater seepage. Porsche currently holds a permit to draw up to 1000 cubic meters of groundwater per year to beused for hygiene purposes and fire protection.

"The compensation measures prescribed by EU law are doomed to fail. They would not serve to protect nature and the environment, but at best to greenwash Porsche by concealing a blatant environmental offence," says Ballenthien from ROBIN WOOD.