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Lignite mining Garzweiler II (Immerath), Germany


The German towns Immerath, Pesch and Luetzerath will soon be wiped off the map to allow energy giant RWE to enlarge its huge open-pit lignite mine of Garzweiler in the state of North Rhine-Westfalia. Lignite extracted at Garzweiler directly feeds the RWE power plants. The site of Garzweiler I (in operation since 1983) is being filled in progressively with earth dug out of Garzweiler II, which will measure 48 square kilometres. Some 7,600 people are being moved in all. Of Immeraths 900 inhabitants, about 100 are still waiting to leave. The rest have resettled into Immerath-Neu (New Immerath), which has sprung out of the ground in the same district of Erkelenz, or gone elsewhere. New cemetery, school and kindergarten have been built in New Immerath, however, there is no church to replace the old one, which will be deconsecrated in October 2013.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lignite mining Garzweiler II (Immerath), Germany
State or province:North Rhine-Westphalia
Location of conflict:Immerath/ Pesch/ Lützerath
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Garzweiler II (2006-2045): 48 square kilometers, 1.3 billion tonnes of lignite, 35-40 million tonnes per year

Project area:4,800
Level of Investment:270,000,000: only for relocation of infrastructure
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:7,600
Company names or state enterprises:RWE power (RWE) from Germany
Relevant government actors:North Rhine-Westphalia government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Die Gruene (The German Green Party), Union for the environment and nature conservation Germany, Friends of the Earth Germany, Climate-Alliance Germany
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, 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
Potential: Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Increased prices for CO2 emissions allowances, decrease of power prices
Development of alternatives:Withdraw from mining, promotion of renewable energy
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The energy company RWE according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (08.10.2013) is considering for cost reasons, the early closure of the North Rhine-Westphalian lignite mining Garzweiler II. The mine should be operated only until the coal is mined in the region, whose villages have been resettled. This would be the case in 2017 or 2018 at the latest. In new resettlement RWE would do without. The original plan was to reduce by 2045 coal in the region. The reason: The operation of large power plants around Garzweiler less and less profitable. The growing supply of wind and solar energy can be so strong drop prices on the electricity exchanges that power plants are increasingly rare in the network. The lignite is because of their environmental impact is also more and more in the criticism. Coal power plants are the most important causes of climate change. A withdraw from lignite mining from 2018 would save 3,000 people from relocation.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

German Mining Law

German constitution

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Bund - Friends of the Earth Germany
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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Meta information
Contributor:Gabriel Weber
Last update18/08/2019
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