10 Sep 2020, 13:56
Benjamin Wehrmann

Villagers fearing resettlement file constitutional complaint against RWE coal mine

Clean Energy Wire

A group of villagers that reject a resettlement due to the expansion of the Garzweiler lignite mine in German federal state North Rhine-Westphalia have said they filed a constitutional complaint that challenges the mine's legitimacy. The Garzweiler mine, owned by energy company RWE and located near the embattled Hambach Forest, was granted a special treatment in Germany's coal exit legislation due to its purported necessity for power supply security in the region, a claim the villagers' alliance Menschenrecht vor Bergrecht ("Human Rights before Mining Rights") disputes. "Everyone should know that also in Germany, people are still losing their homes due to lignite mining – and with the federal government's full backing," said Barbara Oberherr from the threatened village Keyenberg. "That's why we're going to court. Our fight just started," Oberherr said. The group's lawyer, Dirk Teßmer, said he expects that the special rule for the mine that has been dubbed "Lex Garzweiler" will not endure scrutiny by Germany's constitutional court. "It claims that a single open pit mine is necessary from an energy economy perspective without giving any explanation," Teßmer argued.

Germany's coal exit law has set the end date for coal-fired power production in Germany at no later than 2038. It has failed to receive the backing of many environmental groups, instead drawing heavy criticism for falling short of climate targets and granting coal companies too much compensation.  

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