Czechia and Poland continue to battle it out over Turów coal mine

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The Czech-Polish negotiations on the conditions for the continuation of mining in the Polish brown coal mine Turów have ended in failure. Local people, the Liberec region, and the Czech Ministry of the Environment argue that mining has negative effects outside Poland, which the operator of the state mine rejects. The dispute may end in the European Court of Justice. According to the Ministries of the Environment and Foreign Affairs and the Liberec region, Poland’s response to Czech demands for a possible continuation of mining at the Turów lignite mine, which could lead to an out-of-court settlement, is insufficient and cannot be accepted. Czechia expects the European Commission’s statement on the initiative submitted in September by the end of the year and based on it and the negotiations so far, the government will subsequently decide on further action. “We hope that the government will sue Poland for Turów, as soon as possible after the expiry of the three-month period from the filing of the complaint, which will be at the end of December,” explained Nikol Krejčová, Greenpeace coal campaign coordinator. Justice for the local population and protection of their environment and water supplies can be achieved only in this way, she added. Greenpeace, together with 40 other non-profit organizations, called on the European Commission to comment clearly on the issue of the Turów mine, Greenpeace spokesman Lukáš Hrábek told Czech News Agency.

The Czech Republic has repeatedly called on Poland not to continue further mining activities at the Turów mine until it was ensured that its activities are in line with EU legislation and that mining does not worsen the environment, in particular regarding groundwater levels in the Czech Republic. Martin Smolek, deputy minister of foreign affairs and plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic for deliberations at the European Court of Justice, remarked at the time that the violation of EU law is obvious in several respects. “If we do not agree on an out-of-court settlement, we will have to go to the EU Court of Justice,” he added. The Turów mine, which is located near the Czech border, mainly supplies coal to the neighboring power plant and the PGE group wants to mine by 2044. The mine should further expand to 30 square kilometers, Poles also plan to mine to a depth of 330 meters below the level of the surrounding terrain. In March, despite objections from the Czech Republic, the Polish authorities extended PGE’s mining concession for six years, which would otherwise end in April. Title image: The Turow lignite coal mine and Turow power plant near the town of Bogatynia, Poland, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. The Turow lignite coal mine in Poland has an impact on the environment and communities near the border of three neighboring countries, the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. Plans to further expand the huge open pit mine have caused alarm among residents who fear things might get even worse. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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