08 Oct 2020, 14:21
Sören Amelang

German lignite state to greenlight resettlement of villages to expand mine - media report

dpa / Zeit Online

The controversial resettlement of five villages in the Rhenish lignite mining area in Western Germany to expand an opencast mine is set to continue, reports news agency dpa in an article carried by Zeit Online. According to a draft paper by the North Rhine-Westphalia state government, a coalition between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which was seen by the newswire, says the resettlement of the five villages Keyenberg, Kuckum, Unter- and Oberwestrich, as well as Berverath, is to be continued "in a socially acceptable manner" and is to be completed by 2028 in order to expand the Garzweiler mine, owned by utility RWE.

The paper will form the legal basis for lignite mining in North Rhine-Westphalia, and the state parliament must still vote on it, according to the report. New legislation had become necessary after the decision to phase out coal in Germany by 2038 at the latest. The Greens and environmental organisations had called for a halt to lignite mine expansion, and called into question whether energy policy required resettling the villages. Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) called the draft "a document of climate policy implausibility" and said the state government put the social peace in the lignite mining area at risk.

The Garzweiler mine borders on the Hambach Forest, which was embattled for years and will now be saved. The mine was granted special treatment in Germany's coal exit legislation due to its purported necessity for power supply security in the region. Local villagers fearing resettlement had filed a constitutional complaint challenging the mine's legitimacy.  

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