Poland loses to Czech in EU court. Ordered to immediately halt lignite mine on Czech border

The Czech Republic filed in March for an injunction, saying the open-cast lignite mine in Poland drains ground water away from inhabited areas and has other negative effects on Czech residents.

The European Union’s top court on Friday ordered Poland to immediately stop mining brown coal at the Turow mine, on the border with the Czech Republic and Germany.

The decision by the EU’s Court of Justice is a temporary measure pending the court’s final judgement on Prague’s complaint.

Poland is heavily reliant on coal and had argued against the decision, which was praised by environmental campaigners.

In January, the German city of Zittau, just across the border from Turow, also took Poland to the EU’s court, saying the mine was harming the city and was draining away groundwaters.

Poland’s state PGE energy group, which runs the lignite mine, argues that the mine needs to continue operations for years to allow Poland to phase out black coal in line with the European Union’s climate policies.

It would thwart Poland’s hopes of being the biggest beneficiary of the 17.5 billion-euro transition fund.

Black coal accounts for over 48% of Poland’s energy production compared with under 17% from lignite. Turow also has a lignite power plant.

Polish Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka recently extended the mine’s license until 2044. Poland’s new energy plan says the last black coal mine will be closed no later than 2049, but critics and environmentalists say the country’s inefficient coal mining must end sooner.

The court said the previous 2026 license for Turow had infringed EU laws because it was granted without prior environmental evaluation. The order by the court’s Vice President Rosario Silva de Lapuerta said “due to its negative effects” the Turow mine “must immediately cease lignite extraction activities.”

The Czech government filed the suit after not finding a solution in talks with Poland on the subject, but says the dialogue will continue.

Almost 25% of Poland’s energy comes from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydropower and biofuels.

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