If it wasn’t for its nine-acre clay-pigeon shooting range, life in Landscheid – a small town in west Germany’s hilly Eifel region – might remain as slow and peaceful as it has since the end of the Second World War. The range has been used two days a week for close on 40 years. Nobody objected.
But now Germany’s strict environmental protection laws and a rich investor have combined to make the range a potentially massive problem. The law stipulates that the four decades of lead shot polluting the ground must be removed. But Landcheid cannot meet the costs of the huge operation.
Enter shotgun enthusiast and entrepreneur Michael Ostendorf. He offered to pay for the cleaning on condition that he be allowed to develop the site. Two months ago the town council accepted the offer by majority vote. But Landscheid’s 2,000 residents now realise that they have opened Pandora’s Box.
Critics say Mr Ostendorf’s plans will lead to the largest clay pigeon range in Europe. The site will be expanded to 37 acres, be open seven days a week and, include an events centre, gun store, shooting school and restaurants.
The most vociferous objectors are monks at the 12th-century Himmerod Cistercian abbey, who are trying to raise money by providing weekend courses in “spiritual tranquillity”.