Czech environmentalists cry foul as Poland extends coal mining in Turów

Environmentalists plan to turn to international courts for help following Poland's decision to prolong mining until 2044. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 01.03.2023 09:57:00 (updated on 01.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Poland has authorized prolonging coal mining in Turow, near the Czech border, until 2044, the Czech Environment Ministry confirmed to ČTK.

Environmentalists criticized Poland’s decision, saying that allowing further extraction of lignite from the mine situated close to the Czech and German borders is based on a faulty environmental impact assessment.

Poland’s Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa announced on Feb. 17 the decision to extend mining until 2044.

"Environmental NGOs have been reportedly been informed that they can file an official complaint about the decision," Czech Environment Ministry spokeswoman Lucie Ješátková told journalists.

Representatives of Czechia’s Liberec region, which adjoins the Turow mine, said they didn't have any information about the prolongation of mining.


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Choosing jobs over the environment

Environmental organizations said in a joint statement that the Polish decision was based on a wrong environmental impact assessment.

They say Poland put more emphasis on attractive jobs and improvement in macroeconomic indicators, and assessed the influence of the mine on Czechia’s water as negligible. Municipalities on the Czech side of the border lose groundwater due to the mine.

"With the continued mining, Poland destroyed the environment, violating European law," Nikol Krejčová, from the Czech branch of Greenpeace, said in a press release.

She added that Czechia sold the interests of its citizens and environment when it reached a financial settlement with Poland last year concerning future mining.

Impact of mining kept secret

"Water keeps disappearing from the Czech territory. Unfortunately, we do not know how much because the government keeps data on underground water secret. We hope that the European Commission, based on our complaint, will act and stand up not only for the environment but also for local residents," Krejčová said.

The prime ministers of Czechia and Poland on Feb. 3, 2022, signed a bilateral agreement concerning coal mining in Turow. The countries agreed on EUR 45 million in compensation for the damage caused by the mining in Turow and five years of supervision conducted by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The Czech Republic then withdrew a related lawsuit it had filed with the CJEU.

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