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21 Jan 2021, 14:25
Sören Amelang

German city fights coal mine in neighbouring Poland

Tagesspiegel Background

An Eastern German city is attempting to stop an opencast lignite mine in neighbouring Poland, reports newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. The city of Zittau, located very close to the border tripoint of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, will file an official complaint to the EU commission against Polish government plans to extend mining operations in Turów until 2044, the report said. Zittau accuses the Polish authorities of not having made a sufficient environmental impact assessment, and of violating the EU's Water Framework Directive. City residents fear soil subsidence due to further groundwater pumping, as well as chemical pollution of the local river Neisse. "From Zittau's point of view, neither the German authorities nor the Polish operator have so far discussed such drastic consequences in the approval procedure," the city's mayor Thomas Zenker said.

The neighbouring Czech region of Liberec is also concerned that the drinking water for up to 30,000 people could dry up completely due to the mine, the article says. With the help of the environmental organisation Greenpeace, the region filed a complaint with the European Commission last March after the Polish environmental authorities allowed energy company PGE to continue mining for another six years in a fast-track procedure. Ten million tonnes of lignite per year are to be extracted in Turów to supply around three million Polish households with electricity.

Zittau is located in the Eastern German lignite mining region of Lusatia, where coal extraction continues in several opencast mines. Germany has decided to exit coal by 2038 at the very latest. Poland agreed last year to shut coal mines by 2049.

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