Prague Coal has ceased to be in vogue, and Europe is accepting a move. No Poles, they cling to it. So much so that they don’t hesitate to get off the normal international footpath. With the expansion of the Turów lignite mines to the Czech border and the Liberec region, they are pushing the matter forward and not looking at neighborly relations: they persistently refuse to show the Czech Republic what they approved in the mining permit issued until 2026 this year.
“So far, we have only partial information from the Polish side, we demand the wording of the entire decision. At the moment, it is not possible to determine the potential impacts on the Czech Republic, it would be pure speculation, “Dominika Pospíšilová from the press team of the Ministry of the Environment told the Lidovky.cz server.
The government has already decided to take the initiative to the European Commission when it cannot get news of what the Poles on the other side of the border are actually doing and preparing. There is a serious fear that the excavation will drain Czech groundwater to 30,000 North Bohemians.
Time is running out: Poland is spewing the necessary permits, regardless of Czech objections, and local law stipulates that a mining permit can be declared invalid within one year, according to him, the mining began. According to the permit from March this year, which allowed the Poles to mine until 2026, the process is already underway – the deadline is running. The Polish drop threatens to result in a state where it does not matter whose side is right. Because nothing can be reversed.
The procedure followed by Poland goes beyond the norm. “We have not yet encountered a similarly evasive approach in the interstate EIA process,” said Pospíšilová. Concerns that strategic water supplies will disappear are not a vague theory, it has already happened. In the 1980s, the so-called geological fault in Turów became seriously overburdened – the levels on the Czech side of the Zittau Basin dropped to their maximum by up to sixty meters.
Poles: There is no danger
Poland intends to mine coal in Turów on a larger area (bringing it even closer to the Czech Republic, the narrowest place is now a kilometer) and longer, until 2044. The mine needs three things – to get a change in the zoning plans, to have a green EIA stamp and a permit to mining.
The Poles did not let the Czech Republic know at all about the launch of step number one, a change in the zoning plan: it was not until a month after the event began, in July 2016, that the Ministry of the Environment drew attention to this by an e-mail from a Polish citizen. As a result, the Czechia has learned that Poles must apply to participate in a cross-border environmental impact assessment. Neighbors argued that it was not necessary: we were not in danger. Negotiations continued until May 2019, when Poland stopped communicating and began to approve. The Poles did not lose a word to the local authorities that the city plan of the city of Bogatynia had already taken into account the harvest until 2044.
Instead, they pushed for the completion of the green stamp. The Czechs felt that there was still a debate about the parameters of mining in order to avoid a disadvantageous exchange, when the north would lose water and receive coal dust. However, the regional head for environmental protection in Wrocław approved the plan on 21 January. Two days later, he gave him a carapace of immediate enforceability. Translated: the appeal and review of territorial change is underway, where the Liberec region is also trying to object, but at the same time the mining permit is being processed, because the Poles have agreed that they are not waiting.
The Czech side considers the wandering mining permit until 2026, which Poland issued in March, to be the largest of the bricks in the Turów fortification. The Czech side has no idea if this is an intermediate step in extending until 2044, whether it is working with the same scope and capacity. “The proceedings have been ongoing since October 2019, and despite repeated requests, Poland refused to provide the Czech Republic with more detailed information,” the government explains why the Czechia is submitting a complaint to the European Commission.
It is a step forward that can result in an action before the Court of Justice of the EU. But the wheels of the EU apparatus are turning slowly and the Poles are pushing the fight for Turów to the finals. Thanks to the immediate enforceability of the green stamp, they launched the last licensing act. The proceedings are not public, the Czech side does not know how they are going. In addition, there is a well-founded suspicion that Poland will again refuse to show the local government what it was doing.
In the north of Bohemia, civic initiatives are flocking due to mining plans. The locals rebel against the scars in the landscape, but mainly for fear of water, the importance of which was emphasized by the dry years. They have a similar experience as the state. “Poles pretend that all negative influences end at their borders. But this is not the case, “Daniel Gabryš, a resident of the village of Uhelná, told the Lidovky.cz server earlier. The Czechia is not trying to stop mining among Poles; the aim is for Poland to ensure that the negative consequences are not tasted by the locals.