When a resort in the Austrian Tirol wants a new cableway, it generally gets it. None of the insurmountable environmental hurdles or frantic lobbying of prospective investors which so often stymie similar Slovenian ambitions just over the border seem to be applicable. Generally regarded as being awash with cash for infrastructure projects and having just posted record visitor figures for the 2014/15 winter season, it isn’t a case of if but when the next artist’s impression becomes reality on a Tirolean mountainside.

I am not suggesting that due process in the mandatory planning procedures isn’t adhered to – there is no insinuation of any impropriety having taken place – but despite the occasional but very rare instances of projects failing to strike a consensus between developers, local residents and power brokers, it is almost accepted that consent is presumed for the overwhelming majority of schemes unless a compelling case can be presented to derail plans before they enter their embryonic stages. My natural default setting for more and more cable-cars, five star hotels and freshly carved out pistes can best be described as ambivalent although, I have often voiced my concerns as to whether Austria in particular will ever be able to say enough is enough, that they are finally happy with their lot. It is by no means certain that such a scenario would ever play out but the real worry would be should it ever did, that the alpine landscape will have been blighted way beyond the point of no return.

It is with some relief that individual valleys and resorts are able to unilaterally decide on proposals for the next grandiose scheme potentially coming their way. If though for instance a scheme is lodged to the local planning committee by a lift-company owned and operated by the municipality in question, the chances of the project being turned down must rank at zero or below. One such collectors item where locals rose up against an outside developer threatening to endanger the pristine nature their blissful existences relied upon was in the Jamtal, a lateral valley best accessed from the rugged resort of Galtuer. Despite a justified reputation for being snow-sure and the profit from a lift system being just as certain as the high levels of snow guaranteed in the area, residents gave a unanimous thumbs down to the project, their unequivocal stance against rapacious carpetbaggers being though very much an isolated case rather than the rule.

The latest scheme of its type is extremely ambitious, linking up Fieberbrunn with the Ski Circus region that counts Saalbach, Hinterglemm and Leogang amongst the resorts pooling resources with the market town based in the Kitzbuehel district of the Tirol. Advocates of the project confidently espouse that the individual traits of the aforementioned destinations will complement each other, affording skiers the opportunity to experience more varied terrain in the space of a day than was previously possible. A meticulous schedule very much rooted in Teutonic best practice clearly defines at what stage throughout the year the project will be at, the topping out ceremony slated for November enabling an apposite period of testing can be undertaken before the proposed December opening. Whilst the environmental credentials of this scheme have not been brought into question, I haven’t found any mention in the supporting literature of how much deforestation will have taken place to enable this plan to go ahead or, whether such concerns have been offset by ecological initiatives to mitigate the loss of habitat for native species.

Further reading on this matter can be found at:

Tiroler Tageszeitung: Fieberbrunn link with Ski Circus set for November completion