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Vineyard owners 'sabotage' border fence

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Vineyard owners 'sabotage' border fence
Soldiers are helping constuct the fence. Photo: ORF
11:12 CET+01:00
The fence which is currently being constructed at a crossing point used by refugees on Austria’s border with Slovenia could end up having an 800 metre gap after vineyard owners refused to let the government build on their land.

The 3.7 kilometre wire fence, which is a first in Europe's Schengen zone, should be completed before the end of the year.

"We don’t want to interfere with the daily work of local winemakers," Colonel Joseph Reich from the national police force told the ORF broadcaster, explaining why there will be a gap in the fence. He said that it is "theoretically possible" that the gap in the fence could be as long as 800 meters.

Reich’s deputy Manfred Komericky said that the gap was “totally okay” and that if necessary it could be patrolled by police or security forces.

Landowner Helmut Strobl has said he is refusing to allow the fence to be built on his land out of principle. “It’s a chance for me to show that I don’t agree with the fence being put up, the whole thing is nonsense,” he said. He is of the opinion that police can patrol the border crossing, without the need for a fence.

"There are many roads that are also used as border crossings by both countries. Are we going to have to put fences across those as well?”, he asked.

Many of the winemakers on the Styrian border with Slovenia own land that is technically in Slovenia. The government had suggested building doors into the fence and giving vineyard owners a key, but Strobl said this was impractical as the land there is very steep.

The government has allocated a €10 million budget for the fence, but police say it is unlikely to cost that much.

Chancellor Werner Faymann's government says that the two-metre-high fence is to help it better manage the flow of migrants and refugees seen in recent months.

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