Complete coal extraction by 2044 in Turów is not a feasible option. More and more region’s citizens understand that, despite the fact that the officials as well as PGE Group does not want to admit it, luring the miners with unrealistic promises. Meanwhile, there are many ideas for transformation. It was proven by representatives of organizations from Poland, Czech Republic and Germany who gathered together on April 16 in order to have a meaningful debate on the future of the region.
1. A neighbourly conversation about the region
On April 16 there was a workshop on the future of the Turoszów region, attended by citizens and representatives from organizations from Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. Together they were discussing alternative scenarios for Turów. Many ideas about the region’s future were presented and they regarded energy as well as new workplaces. None of the three countries lacks innovative projects or people willing to implement them. The only question is if the officials and PGE Group will be willing to consider them?
“Friday’s workshop on alternative energy for Turów and investments and job creation on the border intersection of Czech Republic, Germany and Poland showed that the representatives of all the regions that participated in this event are interested in embracing a transformation based on the renewable energy sources. The key element would be cooperation between the neighboring countries: Poland, Czech Republic and Germany” - comments Zklaster.
- I am glad that we are discussing transformation’s directions of the region that is shifting towards green technologies, including RES, and that we see the necessity of a wide cooperation with Germany and Czech Republic - assures Agnieszka Spirydowicz from ZKlaster.
The majority of people is afraid of changes; people employed by the companies connected to the mining region are worried about losing their jobs. However, we have a great potential to come up with an innovative solution that would be used to transform the energy flow. - sums up Jan Schönfelder, a representative of Neisse-Nisa-Nysa Euroregion.
2. The Polish officials do not treat European law seriously
A German site Tagesschau comments on the uproar over Turów. It cites a comment made by Thomas Zenker, the major of Żytawa, where he stressed that “the Polish officials do not treat European law seriously”. He points out that the objections to the project were completely ignored in the assessment of the impact on the environment. According to Zenker, Poland has to give clear answers to the questions; what are the possible consequences of development of open-pit, what are the potential risks and the future prospects.
Tagesschau quotes also Anna Meres from Greenpeace Poland:
Lignite mining in Turów means pumping out incredibly large amounts of water. A huge decrease in levels of groundwater can be observed within a radius of tens of kilometers around the quarry.
Tagesschau points out that the effects of those reduction caused by mining activity in Turów can already be observed in Czech Republic and Germany.
3. Can the regulations of European Union be bypassed by a resolution of regional assembly?
The councilmen wanted to include a resolution on supporting the Turoszów Basin by the Just Transition Fund in the agenda of the assembly held on April 15, however they ignored the fact that unless the region provides the date when it would quit from the use of coal, there is no chance of obtaining the funds. Therefore, the resolution was not voted on. The councilmen who did not agree to vote on the resolution argue that this is the government’s turn to take actions.
- It was voted on in September and there is no reason to lure people once again. [...]. Mateusz Morawiecki (the Prime Minister of Poland) is responsible for the case. There will be funds right when he gives the closing date of the mine. Unless he does, there is no money. It is simple but everyone is extremely afraid of conversations about it. The government has to decide, whether it want that money or not. It’s not up to us to pass a resolution A, B or C. Lack of honesty and shifting the responsibility on us is outrageous. We are all fully in favor of getting that money, but we will not let them play with us that if we do not pass that resolution, there will be no money for us. It does not matter on this level. We asked the Marshal on what stage are the talks with the government, but the only response we got was that the negotiations are still ongoing - commented Jerzy Pokój.
4. GDEP confirms the decision on Turów
On 14 April 2021, the General Directorate for Environmental Protection
upheld the decision of the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Wrocław from 23 January 2020, granting the order of immediate enforceability to the decision on environmental conditions for continued lignite mining in the Turów mine.
5. Will PZU insure another unit?
By the end of April, a new power unit will be launched in power plant in Turów. Its construction was insured by Austrian insurers Interrisk, Gothaer and UNIQA. The values of the contract was €6.7 million.
With the opening of the unit, the existing insurances expire and a new contract will have to be signed. Most likely, it will be insured by Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń Wzajemnych PZU, which insures PGE Group, Turów pit and all the other units of the power plant. It is also heavily involved in insuring the Polish coal sector.
Photo: Rrobert Wiedemann/ Unsplash