Turów deal is illegal, Czech experts warn

A view of Turow cooling towers of the coal fired power station near the Turow lignite mine, operated by PGE company, in Bogatynia, Poland, 14 June 2021. [EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK]

A newly drafted agreement between Czechia and Poland on the Turów coal mine violates EU law, Czech environment, and legal experts have warned.

The agreement aims to solve the dispute between the two countries over the extended license for the Polish open-pit mine located close to Czech borders. Prague blames Warsaw for unlawful issuance of the permit as the Turów mine drains water resources from nearby Czech villages.

Czechia wants Poland to sign a deal obliging Warsaw to pay compensation and cover expenditures linked to constructing the new underground wall to protect Czech villages. However, the Czech Geological Survey said that the planned wall would have no positive effect on groundwater levels.

“The barrier is the only water protection measure in the forthcoming Czech-Polish agreement. Concluding the agreement in this form would therefore be contrary to Czech and European laws, which do not allow consent with damage of own environment,” Together for water, a Czech platform that gathers environmental and legal experts, as well as civic groups, wrote in the statement.

According to the platform, the Czech environment ministry should initiate proceedings on environmental damage under the EU Directive on environmental liability, laying down the polluters-pay principle. However, the Czech government has so far been reluctant to do so.

All previous efforts to settle the Turów dispute have failed.

In February 2021, Czech authorities brought the case to the EU Court, which issued a preliminary measure ordering an immediate halt of mining in Turów. However, Poland refuses to follow the ruling and continues mining despite a hefty penalty for not respecting the measure.

Currently, Poland owes the EU more than €50 million in cumulative daily fines.

As EURACTIV reported, the European Commission would take the sum from Poland’s payments from the EU funds if the government fails to pay.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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