Since Easter, there has been great excitement in the Cuxhaven kitesurfing scene with a national echo: The application to extend the exemption from the provisions of the National Park Act in two kite areas - Sahlenburg and Kugelbake - could not be approved until then. It took a variety of discussions to explain the facts on the ground and to point out the problems that exist with kite surfing in the World Heritage Site and National Park. In particular, the original application for two exemption areas was not sufficiently substantiated, so that initially the exemption could only be granted for the Sahlenburg site, the applicants' first priority.
In order to come to a direct exchange of opinions and to remedy the obvious information deficit, but also to give the parties involved the opportunity to exchange new arguments that have not been presented so far, a meeting was held on Monday on the initiative of the Lord Mayor of Cuxhaven, Dr. Ulrich Getsch, and the head of the national park administration, Peter Südbeck, representatives of the Nordseeheilbad Cuxhaven GmbH, a representative of Cuxhaven's kitesurfers, the environmental association BUND, the city and the national park administration in Wilhelmshaven met at the "round table" on Monday to come closer to a solution to the dispute in direct objective talks.
The city of Cuxhaven, the Nordseeheilbad GmbH and a representative of the kitesurfing schools presented new facts and justifications for the retention of both surfing locations - in addition to Sahlenburg also the one at the Kugelbake - which were not known in the previous procedure and thus could not be taken into account by the national park administration. At the same time, a compromise proposal was submitted to the national park administration for the redefinition and improved control of both surfing sites in the urban area. The representatives of the local BUND group mainly brought in the protection concerns of the National Park, here it was about the importance of the Kugelbake site for wintering eider ducks and migratory birds that pass directly over the area between autumn and spring.
The representative of the kitesurfers described the practice of kitesurfing, especially against the background of changing wind conditions, but also explained the implemented and intended monitoring mechanisms in cooperation with the North Sea spa and the city of Cuxhaven as well as the water police.
In view of the newly presented facts, the national park administration has now decided that kiting will continue to be allowed at the two Cuxhaven sites, Sahlenburg and Kugelbake, but under changed general conditions. In order to further improve the protection of the Duhner Anwachs national park quiet zone, both surfing sites will be reduced in size. In winter, only the Sahlenburg site is available for practising the sport. The Kugelbake site will then be closed from 1 November to 31 March for bird migration reasons. The city and the Nordseeheilbad GmbH are also obliged to further improve the marking and supervision of the sites, as well as to provide more in-depth information to kitesurfers about the limits and possibilities of kitesurfing and its effects on nature in the Mudflat Sea National Park and World Heritage Site.
This regulation is already being put into effect today.
"We are convinced that with the solution that has now been found, we can ensure the protection of the National Park and the World Heritage Site, while at the same time taking into account the regional interests of Cuxhaven as a sports and tourism location. The results of the "round table" showed me that nature conservation and sport can be equally satisfied with this solution. Furthermore, we have agreed to enter into a cooperation with the City of Cuxhaven and the Nordseeheilbad GmbH with the aim of protecting nature and strengthening tourism in Cuxhaven that is more closely aligned with the principles of sustainability, as recently laid down in the sustainable tourism strategy for the UNESCO Mudflat Sea World Heritage Site between the Mudflat Sea states. Then it will be possible to come out of this difficult procedure to an improved way of cooperation in the World Heritage Site and the Lower Saxony Mudflat Sea National Park in the future," says National Park Director Peter Südbeck, summarising the procedure.
The National Park Authority does not make its decisions at its own discretion. In fact, kitesurfing is generally prohibited in the Lower Saxony Mudflat Sea National Park. The legal basis is the National Park Act passed by the Lower Saxony state parliament, and the technical basis is the fact that kites of any kind have a long-range scaring effect on breeding and migratory birds - they instinctively perceive the moving silhouettes in the sky as birds of prey.
However, the national park administration has the possibility to grant exemptions from basic prohibitions if regional interests are affected. In this sense, since 2007, areas in the intermediate zone of the national park have been successively released for kitesurfing at the request of the municipalities. After the temporary exemptions expired last autumn, all interested municipalities were able to submit new applications in 2013, and the spots were assessed in terms of number and area in such a way that the protection of the National Park and the World Heritage Site remains guaranteed, but that kiters also have the opportunity to get on the water in these regions.