28 January 2020

Polish authorities ignore German submissions and approve Turów mine expansion permit

BERLIN, 28 January 2020 – Polish authorities have controversially rubber-stamped an environmental permit for the expansion of PGE’s Turów open-pit lignite mine, just hours after receiving critical submissions from a German public consultation process. This indicates that concerns from German people affected by the project are not being taken seriously as part of a crucial process to protect the health and wellbeing of all citizens near the mine, according to the Europe Beyond Coal campaign.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was supposed to be concluded in March 2020 to allow for German and Czech submissions on transboundary environmental impacts, but not only did the Wroclaw authorities publish their 170 page EIA early, without proper consideration of German submissions, they also declared the decision immediately enforceable. This means that PGE can move forward with its mine expansion license before any appeals can be launched.

“This consultation process for the Turów mine has been a total sham. Wroclaw authorities said back in December 2019 that they had sufficient documentation to issue their decision.  It’s clear they never had any intention of properly taking into account the transboundary submissions which could be submitted up until 20 January 2020, and the impact the mine will have on their German neighbours,” said Kerstin Doerenbruch, press spokeswoman at Greenpeace Berlin.

PGE wants to expand the mine, which is located on the border with Germany and the Czech Republic, and operate it and the Turów power plant until 2044. But its plans have been met with strong opposition from the Czech Ministry of Environment (1), and over 5,000 people from bordering communities in the Czech Republic and Germany have filed critical submissions under the EIA.

“The Czech Republic officially opposed the prolongation of Turów as the transboundary consultations found it risks damaging its territory and depriving over 30,000 people of drinking water. But instead of seeking to integrate Czech concerns through a process of mutual consultation, Poland simply issued the permit. That’s not taking Czech disapproval into account as they are obliged, that’s just disregard,” said Petra Urbanová, who is a lawyer at Frank Bold.

“PGE knows that tighter water regulations and rising emission prices will ensure Turów closes long before 2044. The Polish authorities are simply fudging the proceedings so that PGE can extend its licence and demand more compensation when it’s inevitably forced to shut Turów down. They’re toying with people’s health and the climate, and stomping all over the wishes of communities in Germany and the Czech Republic,” said Kuba Gogolewski, Senior Finance Campaigner at the Foundation “Development YES – Open-Pit Mines NO”.

 

Contacts:

Alastair Clewer, Communications Officer, Europe Beyond Coal
[email protected], +49 176 433 07 185

Kerstin Doerenbruch, Press Spokeswoman, Greenpeace Berlin
[email protected], +49 163 614 1395 (German, English)

Nikol Krejcova, Campaigner, Greenpeace Czechia
[email protected], +420 778 002 468  (Czech, English)

Kuba Gogolewski, Project Coordinator and Senior Finance Campaigner, Fundacja “Rozwój TAK – Odkrywki NIE”
[email protected], +48 661 862 611 (Polish, English)

Petra Urbanová, Lawyer, Frank Bold
[email protected] , +420778777164 (Czech, English)

 

Notes:

  1. The Czech Ministry of Environment complained about the faulty EIA process and in it offered a negative statement on the proposed expansion of the mine, arguing that the plans to secure drinking water for local residents are inadequate.

PGE’s current licence for the mine expires in April 2020. Meanwhile, Generali, one of PGE’s insurers of Turów mine recently pulled out of the project when its contract expired at the end of 2019. Two of PGE’s other mining projects have also recently fallen by the wayside: Złoczew failed to gain the approval of the region’s spatial plan, while Gubin failed to meet the necessary requirements for its EIA. The Turów lignite power plant and mine were responsible for a modelled 120 premature deaths in 2017, 80 of which were estimated to have taken place outside of Poland’s borders, with Germany and Czechia most affected.

 

About:

Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal-free by 2030 or sooner. www.beyond-coal.eu

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