Coal company offers resident millions

Photo: Khalil Baalbaki

Czech coal-mining company Severní energetická has approached inhabitants of the towns in North Bohemia standing on brown coal deposits with a financial offer in return for their agreement to leave their homes in case the government approves the relaxing of coal mining limits, Czech Television reported on Thursday.

Photo: Khalil Baalbaki
The Czech government is currently revising the possibility of relaxing the limits, which were introduced in 1991 as a guarantee for municipalities situated on coal deposits that they would not be pulled down to enable further mining. The question is now being revised by the government in view of its long-term energy strategy.

Despite the fact that the decision on relaxing coal mining limits has not yet taken place, the company Severní energetická this week sent letters to people living in Horní Jiřetín and Černice, offering millions in crowns in exchange for their agreement to leave their homes.

According to a report by Czech TV, up to one-fifth of houses in Horní Jiřetín were bought up by speculators, who are now waiting for the best financial deal. However, they are not likely to get as much as the residents.

According to the company’s offer, the mining company is willing to pay off anybody with permanent residence in Horní Jiřetín and Černice. The longer they live there, the more they are likely to get. The maximum amount per person is 250,000 crowns.

For instance, a four-member family in Horní Jiřetín, which owns a house worth 2.5 million crowns and has lived in the town for forty years, has been offered some 6.5 million in compensation for moving to a different place.

According to a survey commissioned by Severní energetická, 33 percent of the residents are willing to move as long as they receive a reasonable offer. Some 34 percent are strictly against and the rest remains undecided.

In case the government votes in favour of relaxing the coal mining limits, the miners would have to reach an agreement with all the residents, since expropriation is not an option.

Zdeněk Olmer, head of the department for strategic communication for Severní Energetická, told the Czech Television that the move was made to trigger debate with the local people. He also stressed that the offers are not binding in any way.