The local government responsible for the controversial Mosel bridge project in one of Germany's best-known wine regions has rebuffed safety concerns surrounding its building plans.

An artist’s impression of the Mosel bridge

Accusations that the Mosel bridge foundations will not be safe are ‘unfounded’, the infrastructure ministry for Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate said.

‘From all of the studies and expertise available to us, there is no doubt that the Mosel bridge will be built safely,’ said the ministry.

Its statement followed renewed criticism of the building plans in a report by Der Spiegel magazine. It reported geogolgy expert professor Rafig Azzam as saying he doubted the bridge would be safe to carry traffic, due to potentially unstable ground on the riverbank where foundation pillars are to be planted.

There is strong opposition in the wine world to the bridge, which some believe will be harmful to Mosel vineyards, considered some of the world’s best for Riesling.

Protest group Pro-Mosel, which includes several winemakers, this week filed a criminal complaint against the state-backed project with the state prosecutor in Trier, citing professor Azzam’s concerns.

The infrastructure minister, Roger Lewentz, said he would instruct officials to speak with professor Azzam about his concerns and discuss any evidence he may have.

But, the ministry added that study of the subsoil and groundwater levels on the banks of the Mosel river has already gone far beyond what would normally be required.

Pro-Mosel’s Georg Laska, who submitted the criminal complaint to the state prosecutor, told Decanter.com yesterday (2 December) that the stability of the slope near to the town of Urzig has not been proven.

‘Several experts tell us that there has been too little examination,’ he said.

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Written by Chris Mercer