Czech-Polish mining dispute resolved but critics cry foul
The Czech Republic and Poland have been in dispute for several years over the Turow mine, on the Polish side of their common border.
The Czech government said the lignite mine drained water from villages on its side of the border.
The issue has also led to a tussle in already strained relations between Poland and the European Union.
Now, however, Prague and Warsaw have finally reached an agreement, with an agreement signed in the Czech capital on Thursday by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki.
The former had this to say after the signing ceremony.
“We agreed that this agreement is important for the protection of citizens who live in the affected areas – with mining in these areas and the impact of these. And it is also important to remove a barrier in the affected areas. Czech-Polish relations.
As part of this agreement, the Czechs will receive 45 million euros in compensation. Most of this money will come from the Polish state and the rest from the mine operator, PGE.
Warsaw will also fund measures to prevent the mine, which is due to operate until 2044, from negatively impacting communities on the Czech side of the border.
Mr Fiala said this involved the construction of an underground wall to prevent the flow of groundwater from Czech territory.
“The contract guarantees that the underground wall will be functional. And if not, depending on the agreement, mining can be stopped.
But not everyone is happy. Opponents of the deal say it was ultimately struck at lightning speed and behind closed doors.
Milan Starec is part of a local group from Uhelná, the nearest Czech village to Turow.
“If only there had been negotiations that benefited the whole region, but that didn’t happen. On our side, the scar in the landscape will be there for many years. And it is also disadvantageous on the Polish side. Because if PGE operates here until 2044, the region will not be able to access European transformation funds. It will therefore depend on coal as long as mining continues.
Most of the 45 million euros handed over by the Poles will go to the coffers of the Liberec region in North Bohemia. He will spend this money on new water supply systems.
However, Anna Kšírová from the Parents for Climate group told Mladá fronta Dnes that Uhelná only has enough water for five years. There is no way a new water supply system will be in place by 2027, she said.
Critics also say nothing will be done to protect residents from pollution and litter.