21 Jul 2023, 14:12
Jack McGovan

Poland’s decision to resume mining on the Polish-Czech-German border irks local lawmakers

Clean Energy Wire / taz / ARD

A decision by Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court to repeal a moratorium on the open-pit mine in the Polish-German-Czech border region of Turow has irked policymakers from neighbouring eastern German state Saxony. Anna Cavazzini, member of the EU Parliament for the Green Party in Saxony, criticised the court for overturning an interim junction by a local Polish court, which in late May had ordered to stop mining at the site due to negative impacts on building stability in nearby regions in Germany and Czechia. Cavazzini said the decision was “not a good sign” for cross-border relations, after the German town of Zittau and a Czech NGO had sued the mine’s operators. In contrast, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed joy at the supreme court’s decision, saying that Poland has “not allowed themselves to be blackmailed by eco-terrorists from the West, particularly those from Germany”, reports newspaper taz. The court had made the decision on the grounds that the Polish population has a right to the steady supply of energy.

Greenpeace subsidiaries in Germany and Czechia, as well as Zittau authorities, litigated against the mine, arguing the consequences on Germany and the Czech Republic have not been properly considered. Concerns include noise pollution and a reduction of the groundwater level could result in damaging buildings. In 2021, the European Court of Justice temporarily ordered the mine to cease digging, which Poland ignored, reported German public broadcaster ARD. Morawiecki said Poland will not allow the mine to be closed and his government will do everything to ensure it can function as planned until 2044. Cavazzini, on the other hand, said the area could be a leader for Europe as a cross-border example of phasing out coal. Germany aims to phase-out the fossil fuel by 2038, though the coalition government hopes to bring that forward to 2030.

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