Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in his exposé in the Sejm that when he was previously head of government, “there were no protests” from people expropriated for investment purposes. But he’s wrong, because some of the expropriated residents rebelled.
The new Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, delivered his exposé on December 12, in which he not only announced the government’s action plan, but also presented the profiles and tasks of all his ministers. Dariusz Klimczak from the Polish People’s Party-Third Way was appointed Minister of Infrastructure. The Prime Minister revealed that a special team had been established to solve infrastructure issues before the government was sworn in crisis at border crossings with Ukraine and assess the future of the Central Communication Port (CPK) project, i.e. one of flagship investments United Right government.
Regarding the issue expropriation of residents for the construction of infrastructure necessary for the CPK, Donald Tusk said: “Almost everywhere I was in Poland, I met people with tears in their eyes saying: they want to expropriate us, they don’t say when, they don’t say for how much, they don’t really say why . It will end. (…) We really did the largest construction site in Poland. The investments when I was prime minister were the largest investments in the history of Poland and the history of Europe. Sometimes I pass your columns on roosters on highways and expressways. “, then you go there because we managed to build these highways and expressways. And stadiums and modernization of railway lines.” Then he asked:
Have you heard of even one protest by the dispossessed? Yes? And I do not. And I was the prime minister and imagine, I made decisions on this matter. There were no protests. Everyone received their due satisfaction.
“And I want to tell you that regardless of what investment decisions we make, people in Poland will no longer cry about it. The future of CPK will be decided in a transparent way,” added the head of the new government.
So we are checking whether there were actually “no protests” of residents expropriated for state investments during Donald Tusk’s government.
What is expropriation?
Expropriation of real estate is the deprivation or limitation of ownership rights to real estate located in areas intended for “public purpose investments”. Expropriation is enshrined in the constitution, art. 21 section 2 states that “expropriation is permissible only if it is carried out for public purposes and for just compensation.”
Thus, the state may legally expropriate the owner of real estate located in an area intended for public purpose investment if it pays him compensation and “the public purpose cannot be achieved in any other way.” Public purposes are precisely listed in Art. 6 Act on real estate management from 1997. These include: roads, railway lines, airports and facilities necessary for state defense.
However, announcements of expropriation for large state investments often trigger protests from residents who, for example, argue that a given road can be taken in another variant, believe that the proposed compensation is too low, or complain that they have nowhere to move even with the money received from compensation. During the first two terms of office of Mateusz Morawiecki’s government, especially many protests was organized due to the planned expropriation for the Central Communication Port, because this investment involves not only the construction of an airport, but also a railway and road network.
The then government plenipotentiary for CPK, Marcin Horała, was asked about this in August 2022 he was referring to the past, including until the times of Donald Tusk’s government: “At this point, the rules of expropriation for public investments and compensation for them are exactly the same as they have been for the last 20 years, so if they weren’t terribly bad then, they are not terribly bad now either.” . To the comment that the CPK was not being built at that time, the then deputy minister replied: “But investments for Euro 2012 were being built, highways and national roads were being built and people were expropriated for this purpose. We want to change these rules for the better, more beneficial for the residents. The basic principle is now: an appraiser comes, prepares a survey, estimates how much your house is worth, let’s say a million zlotys, you get a million zlotys.
Investments before Euro 2012 were carried out by Donald Tusk’s government, so they included: the new-old Prime Minister spoke about them, claiming that there were “no protests” by the expropriated people then. We recall such cases from 2008-2014, when Donald Tusk was the head of government.
2009: protests against the Kashubian Route
In August 2008, Prime Minister Donald Tusk promised the residents of Słupsk a fast road to Tricity, the so-called the Kashubian Route (part of the S6 road), in exchange for locating an anti-missile shield in nearby Redzikowo. Three variants of this road were marked, but they became a reason for protests from some residents of the towns through which they ran.
In January 2009, the Trojmiasto.pl portal he called The Kashubian Route “the road of protests”. In July 2009, protesters protested, among others: residents of Lębork, who argued that there would be more houses demolished for the road than the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways claimed. “41 houses and plants will be demolished, including 8 in Lębork,” said one of the protesters. quoted via the Gp24.pl portal. As part of the protest, demonstrators crossed the pedestrian crossing for several hours and did not allow cars to pass on the Lębork – Gdynia route.
The then spokesman for the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDiKA) in Gdańsk did not hide the fact that “when it comes to over sixty kilometers of the new route, there will be demolitions and protests.” At the same time, he assured that “owners of houses and plants intended for demolition will receive compensation, and the houses will be valued by an expert at market prices.” However, protesters from Lębork and Mosty replied that they would lose their workplaces along with their buildings.
However, the protests were not supported by all residents of Lębork and neighboring towns. You can find it on the Trojmiasto.pl website reader’s articlewho wrote that “two gentlemen who are threatened with demolition are torpedoing the southern variant of the bypass road, initially approved by GDDKiA and KOPI (Commission for the Assessment of Investment Projects – ed.). [Lęborka]. They say in the media that they represent the inhabitants of Lębork. This is an outright lie. The rally organized by them, which according to the organizers was supposed to be attended by about 6,000 people, was attended by about 50 people, i.e. the interested parties themselves and their families. The route was opened in December 2022.
2009: appeals and forced expropriation of the Wrocław bypass
One of the key investments for Euro 2012 was the A4 motorway, part of which is the Wrocław bypass. In 2006, GDDKiA marked out the route so that it ran through two plots belonging to the owner of an orchard and cold storage in Mokronos Dolny near Wrocław. GDDKiA proposed two offers for the takeover of the plots: PLN 2 million and PLN 4 million, but the owner did not agree to these conditions, writing appeals and requesting PLN 10 million.
The negotiations lasted three years, after which the Lower Silesian Voivode finally decided on expropriation. First, the executor called on the owner of the plot to voluntarily hand over the land, but after subsequent refusals, in September 2009, excavators and workers went to work, cutting down the fence and successively cutting down fruit trees, preparing the land for handing over to the investor who is building the highway. In addition to the enforcer, there were policemen, firefighters and an ambulance on site. The owner of the property initially blocked the entrance roads with cars. However, there were no fights, only verbal altercations, and eventually the woman allowed the area to be cleaned up. The route around Wrocław was put into operation at the end of August 2011.
2010-2011: protests against the Tricity Metropolitan Bypass
In Pomerania, public emotions were also ignited by plans to build a bypass of the Tri-City Metropolis (part of the S7 expressway), which was to lead west from Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot. In 2010, GDDKiA designated four variants, but each of them was met with protests from residents of towns located near them or on their route, primarily in the communes of Kolbudy, Lublewo, Żukowo and Chwaszczyno. They sent them to designers and GDDKiA.
Association of Residents of the Kolbudy Commune in protest posted in December 2010 on the commune’s website informed that “the current variant will require the demolition of many houses in the Kolbudy Commune.” The Chwaszczyno 2030 Association sent an open letter to the GDDKiA management, which stated that the new variant would cut the town in half. In July 2011, the portal Gdansk.naszemiasto.pl reportedthat the residents of Żuków “do not see any benefits, only that the road will divide the town in half, cause the demolition of residential and service buildings, and destroy recreational and naturally valuable areas.”
However, residents of eight towns located near the planned route, including Chwaszczyno, w protest sent to the director of the Gdańsk branch of GDDKiA, they wrote that they demanded a categorical rejection of the presented variants. “In our opinion, ignoring us – residents and property owners – in this type of process is not in line with the current political system,” they added.
The investment is in progress.
2013: protests against S19 in Podkarpacie
The entire Podkarpackie section of the S19 road is part of the so-called Via Carpatii, an international route intended to ultimately connect all countries on the route from Latvia to Greece. In 2013, GDDKiA proposed a new variant of this road in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship – it was to run, among others, through the town of Jeżowe in the Jeżowe-Podgórze village. This sparked protests from residents. They did not go out into the streets, but intervened with the village head, to whom they submitted a protest in February 2013, signed by 360 people.
Echodnia.eu portal he reported then that “the issue of displacement of residents raises a lot of controversy. Probably, in connection with the construction of the expressway in Jeżów-Podgórze, six farm buildings and four residential buildings will be demolished. Although compensation is expected, the reactions of residents are far from optimistic.”
In July 2013, the protest took on a more formal character, because a social committee was established in Jeżów demanding a different route for the section of the S19 route. “We are in favor of the road running through the Jeżowe commune, but at the same time avoiding the residents,” said the mayor of Jeżowe-Podgórze in conversation with “Echo Dnia”. “Then there would be no demolitions, displacements and protests. The point is to minimize inconvenience. The well-being of people should come first,” he added.
In December 2013, two PiS senators from Podkarpacie: Janina Sagatowska and Zdzisław Pupa sent a statement on this matter to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure, Elżbieta Bieńkowska. The parliamentarians wrote in it that “as a result of the specific planning of the road, several families are at risk of displacement and loss of property.”
The inhabitants of Nowoselec also protested against the Podkarpackie S19 variant. They also did not go out into the streets, but handed the mayor a protest letter signed by 641 people. They were afraid, among other things, of: demolitions and displacements, which allegedly concerned five farms in the southern part of the village. Above all, however, it was about allocating several undeveloped plots in Nowoselec for the construction of the road.
The protesters’ arguments were not shared by the mayor of Nisko, to which Nowosielec belongs. Julian Ozimek claimed that “this variant is extremely beneficial for the Nisko commune because it opens all investment and construction areas” and the gathering of protesters is “the result of the grievances of two or three people from the end of the village who outraged the society by showing them a completely different map.”
The investment was completed in 2021.
Main photo source: Marcin Obara/PAP