West side of the Buda Castle demolished for a HUF 18 billion underground car park
Trees are constantly being cut down on the western side of Buda Castle because of the HUF 18 billion castle garage and vineyard. Based on drone photos from our reader only 14 of the 54 trees earmarked for felling remain. Protesters say that the social dialogue was just an act, and that the car parks are needed because of the move of the ministries to the Castle. Várkapitányság Zrt., the state-owned company claims that diseased, invasive trees have been sacrificed, but the mayor and residents claim that most of the trees condemned to be felled are healthy.
Since 2018, the National Hauszmann Programme, managed by Várkapitányság Zrt., has been covering the renewal of the Buda Castle. It has a huge budget. The exact amount of the entire investment, including Orbán’s new residence, is still unknown, but professional calculations estimate the final sum to be between HUF 200 and 1000 billion.
Two of the five underground car parks planned for the Castle have been completed so far. The western garden and the new underground car park cost HUF 18.1 billion. The underground car park currently under construction was planned to be completed in 2017 at an estimated cost of HUF 4.8 billion, but is still under construction.
The project will not only include a garage, but also the planting of vines on the hillside – trees in the area will be felled and replanted. The underground car park will cause the hillside to be demolished from above.
Recently, Márta Váradiné Naszályi, the opposition mayor of the I. district, disclosed that the government office had given permission to cut down 54, mostly healthy trees because of the underground car park and vineyard being built on the western side of Buda Castle. The construction is a government project, the municipality has no say in it. After more than a year of secrecy, the number of trees to be felled has been revealed.
The company managing the project has issued a statement on the matter, according to which “the green rehabilitation of the area will replace old, diseased, invasive and accident-prone trees with at least one and a half times as many noble and valuable trees.”
The mayor and protesting residents say this is a lie. The government decision lists the trees in detail, and only two are considered invasive.
Drone photos obtained by our newspaper show that only 14 of the 54 trees earmarked for felling remain. About 30 trees will be felled for the vineyard.
“Our final plans were developed in a community planning process with residents and the municipality,” the Várkapitányság said in the statement. But protesters say there was no community planning, it was all a sham. In fact, in several forums, they have indicated that they do not want a vineyard instead of a forest park.
Translated and written by Szilvia Zsilák. The original, more detailed Hungarian version of this story can be found here.