Court says ‘environment report necessary’ for planned coal mine in western Turkey

Court says ‘environment report necessary’ for planned coal mine in western Turkey

ESKİŞEHİR - Demirören News Agency
Court says ‘environment report necessary’ for planned coal mine in western Turkey

Alpu, Eskişehir

Turkey's Council of State’s 14th chamber upheld a ruling by an administrative court in the western province of Eskişehir that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report is needed for a planned coal mine in the Alpu plain.

Previously, the Provincial Directorate of Environment and Urbanization had decided in December 2017 that an impact assessment report for the mine that will provide coals to a planned thermal power plant is not required. However, the Eskişehir Municipality challenged this decision and took the issue to the court.

“The Second Eskişehir Administrative Court cancelled the provincial directorate’s decision in April 2018. The Eskişehir Governor’s Office appealed against the court’s ruling at the Council of State,” the Eskişehir Municipality said in a statement.

“However, the 14th chamber of the Council of State upheld the lower court’s decision regarding the environmental assessment report. According to the latest ruling, the EIA report must be prepared,” the statement added.

A 1,080 megawatt coal-fired thermal power plant is proposed in Alpu. The power plant is said to consume 7.8 million tons of lignite coal each year.

Concerns over pollution

A group of locals formed a human chain in January to protest plans to build the power plant on a lowland in the Alpu district. They claimed the power plant would seriously damage Eskişehir’s tourism, air, and water.

Greenpeace Mediterranean claimed in a recent report on the proposed Alpu power plant that their calculations suggest the air pollution caused by the power plant may trigger 3,200 premature deaths.

NGOs, which are also against the construction of the power plant over environmental concerns, held a press meeting in July to address those worries.

Speaking at the gathering, Akif Aladağ, the president of the Eskişehir-Bilecik Chamber of Medicine, argued that if the power plant project is implemented, cancer incidents will increase significantly across the Eskişehir province, particularly in the Alpu district, over the next 35 years.

“More than one million people in Eskişehir and neighboring districts will be affected by the pollution created by the power plant,” Aladağ claimed.

However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Aug. 3 the plans for the Alpu thermal power plant will go ahead as part of his government’s ambitious 100-day action plan that focuses on putting Turkey’s economy back on track.

“We will hold a tender for the 1,000 MW power plant in Alpu,” Erdoğan said without providing other details.

A tender for the power plant was scheduled for April 26 but the deadline for placing bids was extended to Aug. 15.