The Slovenia Times

Infrastructure Dominates Govt Notranjsko Visit


While the majority of other regions have problems with roads, rail is the biggest issue in Notranjsko, as is the army's main training facility near Postojna.

The region suffered a major setback when passenger trains were discontinued after last year's ice storm due to the destruction of power lines. Diesel trains have been plying the route since, but only to pull cargo wagons.

Infrastructure Minister Peter Gašperšič promised officials in Postojna that power lines would be restored shortly. One track will reopen for electric trains this month and the second one in August.

Locals have also been seeking a better road connection between the A1 motorway and the Jelšane border crossing, a popular route for tourists travelling to Croatia which gets severely congested in the summer.

Gašperšič said the government was expected to pick the route of the new road by the end of the year, whereby it is yet to decide whether it will be a two-lane or four-lane connection.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar noted there was not enough money right now to substantially improve the road, but there will be several projects in the region this year that will improve the overall road infrastructure.

Primorsko-Notranjsko is the most sparsely populated and the most forested Slovenian region. It was accordingly hit particularly hard by the early-2014 ice storm, which damaged thousands of hectares of forest.

Cerar said the ice storm clean-up was proceeding well, noting that the government had adopted measures to speed up the forest clean-up and restore road infrastructure.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek added that a wood directorate would be launched by the summer to "revitalise the wood-processing industry", including by facilitating the drawing of funds.

The region was once home to several major wood industry companies, but many of them have perished. One of the last remaining ones, Javor Pivka, is still in business but is in the process of being wound down, though strategic investors are being sought.

Another major problem for the region is Poček, the army's main training ground, which is considered of key importance for the armed forces but is unpopular among locals because of the noise and limitations on use of neighbouring land.

Defence Minister Andreja Katič discussed the issue with Postojna Mayor Igor Marentič. They agreed a long-term solution needed to be found, but the ministry wants Poček to remain a key facility while the locals want it shut down.

The key priority is to shut down Poček. If a systemic solution is set down in a law, the legislation must specify when it will be shut down, Marentič said.

The government adopted in March 2014 a zoning act that designates Poček as a military area, but it is now being challenged by the Postojna Municipality as well as the NGO Alpe Adria Green.

Despite the disagreement, Cerar described the talks on Poček as "constructive". The government is "determined to do everything that is necessary to finally calm down the situation and establish trust between the locals and the Defence Ministry," he said.


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