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Loan opens way for €4.5bn German river clean-up

22 Jul 11 The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed an agreement to lend €450m (£350m) for a project to restore Germany’s Emscher River.

The loan is for a 51km wastewater tunnel as part of a €4.5bn scheme to improve the river and its tributaries, which are in a centre of heavy industry and were used for decades as an open sewerage system. In future, wastewater will be channelled underground so that the rivers can be restored to their natural state and new recreation areas can be created. The reclaimed areas will also offer growth opportunities for the region’s economy.

The loan contract signed by project promoter Emschergenossenschaft and the EIB today concerns the centrepiece of a comprehensive infrastructure project: the 51km, 40m-deep, wastewater tunnel from Dortmund-Deusen to Dinslaken where the Emscher joins the Rhine.  

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“With a total cost of €4.5bn and 350km of water courses, the Emscher rehabilitation project represents Europe’s biggest attempt to restore an entire river and its surroundings and is a driver of structural change,” said Emschergenossenschaft’s CEO Jochen Stemplewski. “We are giving the people of the region their river back and improving their quality of life. The finance contract with the EIB is supporting this important project.”

EIB vice-president Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen said: “The river Emscher has long been central to a region characterised by industry and mining. When industrial and social structures change, people’s expectations of cities and their surroundings also change. The goal of the Emscher rehabilitation project is to restore the river to its natural state and enable the creation of leisure parks and new areas for economic growth on its banks. I am delighted that the European Investment Bank is helping to finance such an important undertaking.”

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