Germany files a complaint against Poland to the European Commission
Poland, 31th January 2021
Today, governing officials and citizens of the German city of Zittau, as well as members of the Saxon State Parliament and the District of Görlitz, filed an official complaint about the Polish open pit mine in Turów with the EU Commission. This is already a third complaint to the EC where Poland is accused of breaching EU law. All of them address the Turów mine.
Turow coal power plant in Poland.
- Poland's dependence on coal isolates us at the international arena and results in international conflict with neighbouring countries. Another complaint to the EC against Poland regarding Turów mine is an unprecedented situation. The way out of this conflict is to set 2030 as a date for coal phase out in Poland and prepare a just transition plan for the Turów region as soon as possible. The plans to continue coal mining in Turów by 2044 are both political and economic fiction. Pushing to continue mining for the next quarter of a century not only exacerbates the conflict with our neighbors, but also deprives the region of the opportunity to benefit from the Just Transition Fund - says Anna Meres, coal campaigner from Greenpeace Poland.
The complaint submitted by the governing officials and citizens of Zittau to the European Commission highlighted the negative impact of the Turów mine on the German city. The activity of the mine causes the depression cone, which results in the disappearance of groundwater within a radius of several dozen kilometers from the border of the open pit. According to the analysis by Ralf E. Krupp, the activity of the Turów mine has already lowered the groundwater level in the Zittau region by 100 meters. Scientists also predict a further reduction of the water level by another 20 meters. Consequently, land collapses are threatening homes. In the center of Zittau, as a result of the planned further expansion of Turów mine, the ground subsidence may increase up to 72 cm. Residents provisionally repairing the walls of their houses are afraid of a loss of stability and value of their property.
PGE GiEK is currently applying for a license to further expand the Turów mine, which would extend its operation until 2044. In the years-long environmental impact assessment process German and Czech citizens shared their objections and the local governments from the Liberec region joined their concerns. Also the Czech government officially took a negative stance on the expansion of the Turów opencast mine. Despite the objections of the inhabitants and non-governmental organizations, the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Wrocław (RDOŚ) issued an environmental decision allowing for further expansion of the open pit. Moreover, the Ministry of Climate last year issued a special 6-year permit to PGE - despite the ongoing appeal procedure against the decision of RDOŚ.
Turow coal power plant in Poland. Credit / Greenpeace
No possibility to appeal from the decision of the Minister of Climate and the exclusion of public participation in the procedure granting the 6-year permit is - according to Germany - the systematic violation of EU directives established in Polish law as it means bypassing the Directive on environmental impact assessment (Directive 2011/92 / EU). In December, in its reasoned opinion related to the Czech complaint against Poland the EU Commission already confirmed that extending the permit for the Turów open pit mine violated several European directives.
Expert report on the cross-border effects of the continuation of lignite mining in Turów (Poland) on water in Germany, Ralf E. Krupp, 2020 (LINK)
EU Commission already confirmed that extending the permit for the Turów open pit mine violated several European directives: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2452