Turkish court suspends energy project hours after trees wiped out
Villagers, who were photographed while crying in the streets of Yırca due to the Nov. 7 destruction of their olive groves, celebrated the court's ruling in the evening. DHA photoTurkey's Council of State suspended Nov. 7 a controversial project to build a coal plant in a western town, hours after thousands of trees in the area were rooted out by the energy firm amid locals' resistance.
Kolin, an energy firm known for its close ties with the government, was given permission to build a coal plant on the olive grove in the Yırca village near Soma, the disaster-struck Aegean coal capital in the province of Manisa. While issuing a stay of execution, the court's 6th Chamber ruled that the government's decision of "urgent expropriation" for the land may cause irreparable damages.
Villagers and local activists had been standing guard for nearly a month to prevent the company from clearing the area of trees for the construction. However, the firm forcefully cut down more than 5,000 trees hours before the Council of State ruling. The private security of the company also beat and unlawfully detained some of the villagers during the episode, according to the Turkish media.
The incident occurred just three weeks after the beating of a number of local activists by the same security guards, which had prompted significant outcry on social media.
"There has been illegality here since the beginning," locals' attorney Deniz Bayram told reporters while announcing the ruling. "The company fenced the grove, keeping locals' away from their own lands, by relying on Urgent Expropriation Law which can only be used in case of war," Bayram said.
"We're sad, because some 6,000 trees have been cut down. We're happy, because the ruling is right. The real legal struggle is beginning now," he added.
The construction was enabled by a controversial law allowing the building of energy facilities within olive groves. The law has been described as “necessary” by the energy minister, who stressed the need for such measures for the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear plant in the southern locality of Akkuyu and for digging new coal plants.
Villagers, who were photographed while crying in the streets of Yırca due to the Nov. 7 destruction of their olive groves, celebrated the court's ruling in the evening.