09 Dec 2022, 13:53
Carolina Kyllmann

Estern German coal regions secure €1.4bn for renaturation of opencast mines

Clean Energy Wire

Former coal regions in eastern Germany have secured a budget worth 1.44 billion euros for the renaturation of lignite mines over the next five years. The states of Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia signed an administrative agreement with the federal government to continue the renaturation and deal with the environmental consequences from heavy coal use in GDR times. “This is an important signal for the former East German opencast mining regions and for nature conservation,” environment minister Steffi Lemke said. Until 2027, the fund will promote necessary protection measures for soils, waters and nature, while fomenting structural development to secure jobs and give regions new perspectives, Lemke explained. The funding volume for lignite area renaturation is 214 million euros higher than the current administrative agreement. Of the 1.44 billion euros, the government will finance 978.7 million.

Following German reunification, many opencast mines in the former GDR were shut down. Since 1991, the federal and state governments have invested more than 11.9 billion euros in lignite renaturation. This involves rehabilitating and recultivating areas previously used for mining, making these opencast pits and contaminated sites useable again. Recognised as a success project internationally, there has been much progress in lignite renaturation, with “diverse and attractive” landscapes now standing where coal was formerly mined. In 2017, the federal and state governments secured 1.23 billion euros for the project. The new agreement aims to ensure the success of further steps needed, such as securing inner dumps and establishing a largely self-regulating water balance in the coming years. 

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