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Poland oks Turow mine’s permit till 2044

| 2023-03-01 2 min read

Poland oks Turow mine’s permit till 2044

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Poland has extended the operational license of its highly-polluting Turow lignite mine by 22 years, the Czech Environment Ministry revealed on Wednesday. 

“According to our information, Poland has authorised the extension of mining until 2044, with a decision by its climate and environment minister from 17 February,” Czech Environment Ministry spokeswoman Lucie Jesatkova told journalists.

Turow tough habit to break for Poland

Poland has been receiving daily fines of EUR 500,000 since September 2021 for ignoring a court order to close Turow, where it mines the cheap coal close to the tri-border with Germany and Czechia. The continued operation of the controversial mine has for years caused rows between Poland and Czechia – and even provoked a lawsuit. 

Strained Czech-Polish relations over Turow even escalated into a diplomatic incident last January, when Warsaw recalled its ambassador to Prague, who had said tensions were due to Poland’s “lack of empathy, understanding and desire for dialogue” regarding the mine dispute. 

The following month the Czech and Polish PMs signed a bilateral agreement on the impact of the mining at Turow, including EUR 45mn compensation and 5-year supervision by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). Czechia then withdrew its lawsuit with the Court.

Environmentalists accuse govt of selling out local residents

Nikol Krejcova of Czech Greenpeace said the environmental impact of Turow is huge, and “the Czech government has sold the interests of its citizens and environment for CZK 1 billion.

“Water keeps disappearing from the Czech territory. Unfortunately, we do not know how much because the government keeps the data on underground water secret.

“We hope that based on our complaint, the European Commission will act and stand up on behalf of not only the environment, but also of the local population,” Krejcova said.

Green NGOs reject finds of impact report

On Wednesday green groups also dismissed the tri-country environmental impact report on which Poland’s decision was based. The Czech region of Liberec, next to the Turow mine, told Czech media that they had not been informed of the decision.

Liberec said the municipalities on the Czech side of the border are losing groundwater due to their proximity to Turow, whatever the energy and employment benefits for Poland.

Coal is indeed important to Poland, as over two-thirds of its energy comes from the fuel. Turow produces over 27 million tonnes of lignite per year, and employs around 3,600 people.