Activists collect over 40,000 signatures against construction of coal plant in Black Sea port

Activists collect over 40,000 signatures against construction of coal plant in Black Sea port

Activists collect over 40,000 signatures against construction of coal plant in Black Sea port

Considered as one of Turkey's most beautiful port on the Amasra is also renowned for its archaeological sites and historic fortress.

Activists have collected over 40,000 signatures for a petition against the construction of a coal plant in the Black Sea port of Amasra, a town much renowned for its nature and history that is aiming to enter UNESCO’s permanent cultural heritage list.

The number of signatures collected represents more than the double Amasra’s own population and almost the fifth of the entire Bartın province.

The construction of the controversial plant was given the green light after a local court approved the company’s environmental impact assessment report (ÇED), which is mandatory according to the legislation for the approval of any project that can have effects on the environment. The report in question had drawn huge reactions, as the Cultural Ministry expressed a favorable opinion despite the town’s bid for UNESCO and concerns regarding the effects of pollution, not only to nature, but also to fishing the activity.

According to news website Bianet's report, the Bartın platform, which took the intiative of preparing the petition, is arguing that such a plant would damage the ecosystem near Amasra due to the specific characteristics of the region’s climate.

It particularly stresses Amasra is prone to fog due to the difference of temperatures between the land and the sea and any kind of toxic gas emitted by the coal plant would sink in the town and threaten the health of its inhabitants.

It also stressed that not only endemic plants and species will be at risk, but the coal mines that will be opened near the plant could also contaminate potable water.

Lawyer Arif Ali Cangı, who specializes on ecological cases, stressed the citizens’ consent should also be asked for projects that can affect the daily lives of an entire population.

“In Bartın there is now an objection to the ÇED report, which received one of the highest rates of popular support seen until today. The ministry should not approve a facility the people are opposed to,” he said.

The petition comes a few days after Environment Minister İdris Güllüce defended the construction of the plant, trying to soothe the criticism.

“There is very important coal underground and Turkey needs to use that coal. If the facility is modern and operated in line with environmental protection principles, there won’t be any damage [done to the environment],” Güllüce said June 18.

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Rıza Yalçınkaya noted Amasra was one of the 100 hot spots in Turkey as determined by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Two previous environment assessment reports for the 1,320-megawatt plant were rejected in 2010 and 2011. The company conducting the project, Hattat Holding, changed the location to Gömü village in 2013. The mainly positive report was eventually accepted with the company’s third attempt.

Together with the coal plant project, the government’s policy to build hydroelectric plant projects along the Black Sea coast also continue to draw much popular outcry.