RWE wins legal battle to continue coal mine expansion
A state court in North Rhine-Westphalia has ruled in favour of German utility RWE in a land dispute linked to the expansion of its Garzweiler lignite opencast mine located in the western German hamlet of Lützerath, near the city of Mönchengladbach, Der Spiegel reports. The owner of the farmland, which borders the opencast mine, and two tenants had sought to stop RWE’s takeover of the property. The North Rhine-Westphalian Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Münster rejected the lawsuit and said RWE was now free to make preparations to clear the site of trees and buildings and excavate the land for lignite. The court thus upheld an earlier ruling by the Aachen Administrative Court. The Münster court said its ruling in favor of lignite mining was compatible with the constitutional requirement to protect the climate. In addition, it noted that the farmer's complaint did not show that there were alternative open-cast mines to meet necessary brown coal demands in order to spare his property without forcing the confiscation of other private land. The court also based its decision to allow mining operations to continue in the region on the fact that two power plants use coal from the Garzweiler mine that cannot be otherwise replaced, if at all, “without great effort”.
The German government and energy companies last year signed a legal agreement to end lignite-based power generation in the country by 2038 – a deadline Germany’s new government has said to "ideally" bring forward to 2030.