The EU bank provides a new EUR 450m loan for the Emscher rehabilitation project

The EU bank provides a new EUR 450m loan for the Emscher rehabilitation project

  •  Release date: 13 July 2017
  •  Reference: 2017-199-EN

One of Europe's largest environmental projects is to receive additional support from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EU bank is providing a further EUR 450m loan to Emschergenossenschaft for the large-scale rehabilitation of the river system. Werner Hoyer, EIB President, and Uli Paetzel, Chairman of the Executive Board of Emschergenossenschaft, signed the contract today in Oberhausen against the spectacular backdrop of the 45 m deep excavation pit for the Oberhausen pumping station.

With this new loan, the EIB is co-financing Emschergenossenschaft's investment programme for the 2017-2019 period. In addition to its large volume, the loan is accompanied by a variety of attractive terms: it has a maturity of up to 45 years and can have a fixed interest rate despite the long duration, making it possible to lock in the current low interest rates over the long term. Previous loans from 2011 and 2013 make this the third time the EIB has funded the comprehensive development project, bringing its total financing for Emschergenossenschaft to over EUR 1.3bn.

The Ruhr region is the largest urban area in Germany with more than 5 million residents, while the Emscher river passes through the central Ruhr region, which is home to almost 2.5 million people. Mining has shaped the region economically, and has also had a significant impact on the landscape. Subsidence caused by coal mining meant that no underground sewerage system could be installed, leading to the Emscher and its tributaries being used as an open sewer for almost a century. Only the northward migration of the mining industry in the late 1980s made the Emscher rehabilitation project possible.

The extensive, long-term project is accompanied by the ecological reconstruction of the riverscape. The Emscher is being restored to a near-natural state, with former farmland and brownfield sites being returned to nature. This is creating important natural and recreational space in this densely populated region, and is already significantly improving the quality of life of the people living there. The Emscher should be mostly wastewater-free again by the end of 2020.

At the contract signing ceremony, EIB President Werner Hoyer said: “The Emscher rehabilitation project is a real showcase for the whole of Europe. It shows how a region shaped by industry over several decades can be returned to a near-natural landscape. We are giving the people here their river back, improving their quality of life. I am therefore immensely proud that, as the EU bank, we are supporting Emschergenossenschaft with this essential project by providing EUR 1.3bn to date. Because initiatives like the Emscher rehabilitation project are key to sustainable environmental and climate protection. We must also advertise these projects more widely, as they show in concrete terms what the EU is doing for Europeans.”

Uli Paetzel, Chairman of the Executive Board of Emschergenossenschaft, said: “With an investment volume of more than EUR 5m and a term of more than 30 years, our Emscher rehabilitation project is not only one of the most important water projects in the region, but has now also become an international flagship project with town planning advantages for both people and the natural environment. We are investing not only in revitalising an entire riverscape, but also and above all in the quality of life of Emscher region residents. The finance contract with the EIB is supporting this important project.”

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