Lignite mining Welzow-Sued II (Welzow, Proschim), Germany

Description
In the south of Cottbus, the Swedish government owned enterprise Vattenfall wants to mine further 1900 hectares to extract lignite for its power plants. Over there, 204 million tons of harmful CO2 would be liberated. 810 people would have to be relocated from Proschim, Lindenfeld and Welzow. The city Welzow would be trapped on a peninsula and Lieske would be situated on a narrow strip between the old and new mining sites. From 2027 to 2042 this coal would be mined, and then a flooded Welzow lake of 1600 hectares would be created, which will be likely to be acidified like most of nearby mining lakes. In September 2013, over 120,000 objectors argued against the proposed Vattenfall lignite mining project Welzow-South II. Before the new election in September 2014, the Social democrats-left party government of Brandenburg wants to present a Cabinet decision to Welzow-South II. A broad range of environmental justice organizations (EJOs) are opposing the mining proposal of Vattenfall. The initiatives Kein-weiteres-Dorf (No more villages) and Allianz für Welzow (Alliance for Welzow) are local EJOs opposing the mine. These two have placed internet pages with informations. There initiative is supported by larger EJOS such as Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), Robin Wood, Climate-Alliance Germany, Green League and smaller EJOS such as German Environmental Aid, Nature Friends Germany. Also other organizations are part of the initiative such as Brandenburg Farmers Association, Brandenburg Heritage Association. Protest actions have included demonstrations and writing of postcards to members of the Swedish government. As a reaction to the strong mobilization against this and other mining projects (see for example Jaenschwalde nord) in the region, the Brandenburg government is considering a nationalization of Vattenfall’s mining business. Furthermore, the recent decision of the German constitutional court (see Garzweiler II) has decided, that in the future, citizens must be able to file complaints against expropriations and resettlements at an earlier stage. According to Friends of the Earth Brandenburg and Climate-Alliance Germany this court decision will prevent Welzow Sued and other proposed mining projects in Brandenburg.
Basic Data
NameLignite mining Welzow-Sued II (Welzow, Proschim), Germany
CountryGermany
ProvinceBrandenburg
SiteWelzow, Proschim
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesCoal
Land
Project Details and Actors
Project Details 20m tonnes of lignite per year, 204 tonnes of CO2
Project Area (in hectares)1,900
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population810
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesVattenfall Europe Mining AG from Germany
Vattenfall from Sweden
Relevant government actorsBrandenburg government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreen League (Grüne Liga), kein-weiteres-dorf.de, allianz-fuer-welzow.de, BUND, Greenpeace
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Referendum other local consultations
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
OtherThe regions lignite fired power plants cause annual costs for human health and the environment of about 3 to 5 billion Euro altogether. In its communication to the European Commission

Brandenburg calls upon a significant fraction of pollution (on 57% of days when limits were exceeded) to originate from long-range transboundary air pollution, for example from Poland and the Czech Republic.

The air pollution action plan of the municipality of Cottbus from the year 2006 similarly estimates that about half of the urban pollution with particulate matter is actually due to ambient air pollution and not caused by local traffic. Ambient air pollution is partly caused by the lignite-fired power plants in the greater region.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesNo new lignite mining pits
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The enlargement of the lignite open-mining pit Welzow-Sued II is not admissible according to Alliance 90/The Greens. This party claims to stop the planning procedures. The stake bases on a expert assessment of law firm Philipp-Gerlach und Teßmer from Frankfurt/Main.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Brandenburg Constitution, German Mining law

References

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Gerwin, W., Schaaf, W., Biemelt, D., Fischer, A., Winter, S., & Hüttl, R. F. (2009). The artificial catchment Chicken Creek(Lusatia, Germany)—A landscape laboratory for interdisciplinary studies of initial ecosystem development. Ecological Engineering, 35(12), 1786-1796.

Links

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Media Links

Excavated Away - Lignite mining eats into Brandenburgs villages
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Grandpa Without Lobby
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Meta Information
ContributorGabriel Weber
Last update18/08/2014
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