A respectful approach to nature and the use of natural resources is the underlying principle of planning and construction works for the Brenner Base Tunnel. Austria and Italy have verified the environmental compatibility of the project independently and on the basis of the applicable national laws. The tunnel construction is accompanied by various measures, which will bring about improvements for people and nature.
BBT SE passes construction site water through water protection systems before discharging it into rivers. During the purification procedure, experts check the pH value, the amount of ammonium nitrogen and the turbidity of the water, amongst other things. An online monitoring system guarantees the high quality of water at all times.
Bats have become a rarity and need special protection – including the brown long-eared bat, one of 24 species of Tyrolean bats. Before the start of the construction works in the Padastertal, BBT SE installed nesting boxes for the night flyers in the area surrounding the landfill.
Reforestation can help to offset interference with nature. Many factors influence the success of forestation – for example the choice of the right tree species. In addition to reforestation projects, BBT SE also takes responsibility for numerous improvements to the structure of forests.
Small-scale biotope structures are a valuable stepping stone in the biotope network. These include orchid meadows, which often appear in unfertilised and damp neglected grassland. In the Padastertal, BBT SE has relocated an approx. 250 m² orchid meadow and thus ensured its continued existence.
As far as the boundaries of construction sites and the safeguarding of roads are concerned, BBT SE is implementing “green” solutions, which blend harmoniously into the surrounding landscape. For example, a grassy earth wall encloses the Mules construction site and serves as visual and noise protection.
To check air quality in the area surrounding the construction site, BBT SE uses measurement containers. The instruments capture nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. They send the values online to a monitoring network centre, where the staff can implement immediate measures if necessary – e.g. a more intensive watering of construction roads and landfills.
BBT SE also makes a contribution to improving the ecological condition of flowing waters in the project area. One such concrete measure is the removal of two weirs in the Sill, to be replaced these with a ramp. This will allow fish to reach their spawning grounds located further upstream.
BBT SE endeavours to keep any impacts on nature and the environment to a minimum. Thus, the tunnel portals are carefully embedded in the landscape and the disposal sites located near the lateral access tunnels. Nesting and feeding places for wild animals have been located around the construction sites. In environmentally sensitive areas, an environmental oversight specifically established for that purpose monitors the impacts of construction works on nature and the environment.
Long before construction works started, BBT SE had begun gathering data concerning fauna and flora, agriculture and forestry, air and noise pollution as well as the water resources along the Brenner corridor. The resulting detailed documentation is the assessment base for a comparison of the conditions before and after construction works and, as circumstances require, for compensation measures. Targeted measures are implemented in consultation with the competent authorities and municipalities. The areas temporarily claimed for construction purposes will be subject to re-vegetation once the work will have been completed.
In the project area north of the Brenner, an ombudswoman has been nominated as the contact person in matters concerning nature and environment. In the project area south of the Brenner an Environmental Observatory has been established where all environmentally relevant data is gathered and, if required, appropriate measures that help to respect the threshold values set by authorities are defined.