The Lahn Concept (Action A 1 - ongoing)

General information of the Lahn Concept

The core measure of the Waterways and Shipping Office Mosel-Saar-Lahn (WSA MSL) is the so-called Lahn Concept. It will be the framework concept for the future use and maintenance of the Lahn on a length of approx. 148 km from the weir Badenburg near Gießen (km -11,075) to the mouth of the Rhine near Lahnstein (km 137,300). Since 1981 the Lahn has no longer been used for freight transport. Several weirs and locks partly need substantial restoration and maintenance, calling for urgent action of the responsible authorities.

In the coming years, the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) will face the challenge to develop innovative concepts for the future use of approx. 2,800 km subordinated waterways. They have lost their importance for freight traffic due to changing transport flows and ship sizes and are now mainly used for leisure tourism. Thus, it will be a key issue to elaborate concepts in order to face the challenges arising from the development described above. The common elaboration of the Lahn Concept is considered a pilot activity for the WSV, serving as blueprint for further sustainable development concepts of other federal waterways of the same category.

The Lahn Concept pursues a holistic approach in order to integrate the numerous interests, usages and stakeholders along the Lahn river into the development process. With the participation of all project partners and the interested public, the Lahn Concept offers a unique opportunity to re-invent the maintenance of the Lahn, to enhance the ecological health and connectivity of the river itself, to improve potentials for tourists and nature, to implement the goals of the Water Framework Directive and to consider further relevant correlations.


The development of the concept will strive for integrated and unbiased solutions without pre-defining the results for the future use of the Lahn. For this purpose, the responsible project partner WSA MSL involves the public in a constant dialogue process. Transparency and acceptance among the population will be fostered by regular publications, working groups and workshops, wherever necessary in order to collect feedback from relevant stakeholders. The challenge will be to harmonize the competing interests (shipping, tourism, agriculture, hydroelectric use, fisheries etc.) with nature conservation. A viable future solution for the Lahn will only be achieved if all stakeholders and interest groups are able to accompany the process in a compromising and constructive way. 

The elaboration of the Lahn Concept will be carried out over the entire lifetime of the LIFE project (until 2025). The aim of this Action is to formulate a "Lahn Declaration" which will be signatured by the two Länder Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate as well as by the national Federal level at the end of the project. Concrete measures will be implemented subsequently (from 2026 onwards).

Outlook and timetable for drafting the Lahn Concept (Source: WSA MSL)