Polish minister defends container terminal project in Swinoujscie
A Polish deputy infrastructure minister has defended plans to construct a deep-water container terminal at Swinoujscie.
The planned terminal, which will lie five kilometres from the German border, has generated fierce criticism from Germany owing to fears it could damage the environment.
Under the plan, the new terminal will be able to handle 1.5 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers per year and will be able to accept container ships measuring up to 400 metres in length.
The port's developer, Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaports Authority, has already put out a tender to find an operator.
But the inhabitants of the German side of the island of Uznam (German Usedom), where Swinoujscie is located, oppose its construction.
The Minister-President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Manuela Schwesig, has expressed concerns that the investment could lead to water pollution and deforestation.
According to the German weekly Die Zeit, the project puts Polish-German relations to the test.
But Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Marek Grobarczyk defended the project on Tuesday. "It is obvious that the German side is trying to strengthen its business by limiting such investments," he told PAP.
He said that Poland has its own interests and has to "fight for its development."
Grobarczyk added that "this is no secret that... Schwesig took money from Nord Stream to create a company that was to support, and de facto supported, the construction" of the Russia-German gas pipeline.
"We are afraid that this is a very bad association in terms of what is happening," he added.
He also claimed that criticism of the possible environmental impact was motivated more by a desire to stifle competition than to protect the environment.
"These problems did not appear before, they appear now and for us, it is obvious that it is only due to competitive reasons and is intended to block this investment," he said. "Until now she (Schwesig - PAP), did not care about ecology at all, for example during the construction of the Nord Stream," he added.
According to Grobarczyk, "this project will be implemented because it is simply economically justified and meets the market needs."
He said that Poland wants to sign contracts with a terminal operator this year.