WARSAW, June 7 (Reuters) – Poland’s prime minister on Wednesday vowed to resist attempts to close the Turow lignite mine, likening a court ruling that work at the site should be suspended over environmental concerns to an assault on the country’s sovereignty.
Environmental groups the Frank Bold Foundation, Greenpeace and the EKO-UNIA Ecological Association said in a statement on Tuesday that a Warsaw court had suspended a decision to allow the coal mining concession at Turow to be extended because it could cause significant damage to the environment.
“We will definitely not let this mine close, we will do everything to make it function normally until 2040,” Morawiecki told workers in Bogatynia, where the mine is located. “No courts, whether from Brussels or Warsaw, will dictate to us what is meant by Poland’s energy security, the security of families.”
“Once they tried to conquer Poland in the 18th century, and today see that it is enough to control the elites, that the elites somewhere in Warsaw serve foreign interests.”
Poland’s ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) regularly depict the opposition as elitists who take the side of foreign powers against Poland.
Poland says that as much as 8% of its energy is supplied by the mine. Morawiecki had earlier said in a Facebook post that if implemented, the court’s ruling would mean suspending a concession that allows mining at Turow after 2026.
Environmental groups have long criticised the environmental impact of the open-pit mine, located just across the border from the Czech Republic.
“We have an ongoing climate crisis, which is why Turow, like other obsolete coal-fired power plants, should be shut down by 2030 at the latest,” said Anna Meres from Greenpeace.
The mine was at the centre of a dispute between Warsaw and Prague, as the Czechs said it caused air and noise pollution as well as a loss of underground water.
Poland agreed to pay the Czech Republic 45 million euros in compensation to settle the row, but Warsaw has had European Union funding withheld over a failure to pay fines related to the dispute.
The judgement regarding environmental permission for the extension of the concession is not final and the government and the mine’s owner state-controlled energy company PGE (PGE.WA) can appeal.