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A sport center, a hotel, an eco-center and eco-park, a large marina, multiple restaurants, camping sights, and an 880 car parking lot are planned to be built at Lake Fertő (Lake Neusiedl), the largest endorheic lake in Central Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Mechtild Rössler, has called on the Hungarian government to immediately stop the construction of the 30-billion-forint (EUR 86 million) investment. The area has remained untouched for decades, but some argue that the development is for the best.

The Fertő-Neusiedler Lake area is unique for being the westernmost steppe lake in Eurasia. UNESCO says that the current state of the lake is the result of millions of years of various land-use forms based on “stock raising and viticulture to an extent not found in other European lake areas.”

This area, a valuable biosphere reserve and gene bank, is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna and has been shaped harmoniously for eight millennia by different human groups and ethnically diverse populations.”

The organization emphasizes that modern construction and development in the area must be controlled to ensure that the area’s authenticity is kept alive. While having its unique ecology, its 18th and 19th century palaces and unique architecture, as well as the human-ecological relationship that exists are what make it a World Heritage Site.

UNESCO Attempts to Stop Potentially Harmful Development

With regards to this emphasis, an ICOMOS report was shared with Hungarian Ambassador to UNESCO László Turóczy by Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre Mechtild Rössler, which liberal news portal 444.hu reported on.

The Mystic Beauty of the Lake Fertő Region
The Mystic Beauty of the Lake Fertő Region

Lake Fertő is the Carpathian basin’s second largest lake; since 2001, the lake and the surrounding region have been considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. The lake has been known as Hungaricum since 2013. Four-fifths of the lake belongs to Austria, while the surrounding area within Hungary is called the “Hanság”. The lake is a […]Continue reading

The letter informs the Orbán government that if it does not immediately stop its “Fertő Shore Development” project, it will be threatening the location’s credibility and integrity. Not only this, but the park’s Outstanding Universal Value status could be removed.

Fertő Lake Shore Becomes State-Owned Property

The Hungarian government is building its “Fertő Shore Development” project on the only part of the lake in Hungarian territory where a beach is accessible. The government has taken control of construction on the said beach and has demolished the privately owned stilt houses which had been there for decades, much to the dismay of their owners.

Many of the owners of the stilt houses resisted the development, stating that if it succeeds, no national park will be safe from such projects.

73 Civil Orgs Demand Protection for Lakes
73 Civil Orgs Demand Protection for Lakes

Seventy-three civil organisations have called on the government in a joint statement to ensure protection for Hungary’s Balaton, Velencei and Fertő lakes, as well as the Old Lake in Tata. The petition is aimed at preventing further construction, whether state-financed or private, in natural heritage areas, according to a statement the signatories sent to MTI […]Continue reading

The project is being coordinated by the Sopron-Fertő Touristic Development Nonprofit Ltd., owned by the government. The construction of the state-owned hotels is underway, under the contract of government-ally billionaire Lőrinc Mészáros’ company.

Lake Fertő Architects Say There Will Be “Zero Pollutant Emissions”

Award-winning architect Zoltán Tima, studio leader of Közti, and landscape architect Sándor Mohácsi, head of S73, told pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet that they had already been requested by the Municipality of Sopron to draw up a plan of the development in 2015.

Tima said that “it was already evident from our first visit that the development – due to its composition and nature conservation background – is at the same time both a magnificent assignment and a serious challenge.”

LMP Calls on Govt to Scrap Investments 'Harming Nature'
LMP Calls on Govt to Scrap Investments 'Harming Nature'

The green LMP party on Thursday called on the government to review and scrap all investments harming natural habitats in Hungary, and to regroup the funding of such projects to help coronavirus protection. Party co-leader Erzsébet Schmuck told an online press conference that companies tied to business magnet Lőrinc Mészáros were building a hundred-room luxury […]Continue reading

According to the architect, the project can be achieved with completely controlled, effective economic and ecological solution thanks to which “there can be practically complete harmony from an energy and water management perspective, with essentially zero pollutant emissions.”

The architects emphasized the planned 12-hectare eco-park and the eco-center connected to it, where not only marine life, but the “world of the reeds and birds can be introduced with the facility’s interactive exhibition.”

According to Landscape architect Sándor Mohácsi, “the purpose of this place is for the visiting individual to learn about nature, for which there is a need and a demand. But this must be done in a way which does not impact the much greater territory of the untouched region.”

Párbeszéd Turns to President over Protection of Lakes
Párbeszéd Turns to President over Protection of Lakes

Meanwhile, the Socialists accuse the ruling alliance of "siding with those destroying the environment" against Hungarian families.Continue reading

Mohácsi believes it would be best, “if the first thought coming to the minds of most people arriving at the shore of Lake Fertő would not be how much construction and installation occurred in the area. It would be ideal if they would instead simply enjoy their stay, taking in the area’s beauty.”

Sopron Tourism CEO Says Multiple Accusations Are False

Béla Kárpáti, CEO of Sopron-Fertő Touristic Development Nonprofit Ltd., told Magyar Nemzet that the criticisms the development faces, such as accusations of environmental harm, a danger of accidents, and the construction of 16 tennis courts, are all false.

Waterfront Properties Attracting Keen Interest Despite High Prices
Waterfront Properties Attracting Keen Interest Despite High Prices

Real estate company OTP Ingatlanpont says waterfront properties on the banks of the Danube and on the shores of Lake Velence, Lake Tisza and Lake Fertő are attracting keen interest, and property prices are largely holding up despite the coronavirus epidemic. In a report on Thursday, the realtor said prices are wildly varied in Budapest, […]Continue reading

Kárpáti brought up that on the construction site, there are no World Heritage protected structures or areas, “thus, we did not bring untouched, especially valuable areas into the development.”

The area will feature a sport center with areas to play football, badminton, foot tennis, and tennis courts, Kárpáti said. On the Hungarian side of the lake, a European standard marina will be built along with an education center to teach kids how to sail.

Construction has already begun, and the CEO says, “the contract for the first phase of the development includes a net amount of HUF 8.9 billion (EUR 25.6 million), which has a weather-dependent lead time of 16 months.”

CoE Recognises Another Two Cultural Routes Concerning Hungary
CoE Recognises Another Two Cultural Routes Concerning Hungary

The CoE launched its Cultural Routes programme in 1987 to promote the cultural heritage of member states through travel, and has included 45 routes so far.Continue reading

According to Kárpáti, the developments of the Hungarian side will be done on the model of the already-developed Austrian side, but “there will be no private property here, and we will put much more emphasis on community needs, and sustainability from an environmentally friendly perspective.”

Featured photo illustration via Fertő Lake’s Facebook page