Government approved energy policy; keeps coal mining limits under debate

Protest against the energy policy, photo: CTK

At the beginning of the month an angry mob gathered outside the office of the government, lobbying against a state energy policy proposed by the Industry and Trade Ministry. The controversy over the policy, which is to be in place until 2030, was due to its abolishment of coal mining restrictions, as well as plans to build two new nuclear reactors. Vojtech Kotecky works for the non-governmental organisation, Friends of the Earth, and was there at the protest. His organisation has been campaigning against the new energy policy for the past year. On Wednesday the government decided to keep restrictions but are subject to review in the future. Kay Grigar spoke with Mr. Kotecky.

Protest against the energy policy,  photo: CTK
"Well of course we are disappointed, even though the government removed the original proposal to abolish restrictions for coal mining and decided to review them instead. But the restrictions are still under threat because at the same time the government wants to build two new nuclear reactors as was proposed in the original draft of the policy. The Czech Republic will continue to be one of the worst climate producers in the whole of Europe."

I had thought that the development of the two new nuclear reactors was still in negotiation so they are going to follow through with that development?

"Well, the two nuclear reactors are in the policy and the proposal is to build them in 2020 so there is time for some debate about the project. But they are in the policy and written on paper so there is still a need to be quite concerned."

Can you tell me to what extent the coal mining industry will be restricted with the new policy?

"Well since 1991 there has been a government decree which effectively prohibits coal mining under any villages in Northern Bohemian so that Northern Bohemian villages are protected from coal mines. There have been about eighty villages destroyed from coal mining in this region since World War Two. The proposal of the original draft of the policy abolished those restrictions and allowed coal-mining companies to go into the villages and enlarge their coalmines. This original proposal was removed and now we have a slightly milder version that says that the restrictions will be reviewed. This is still very dangerous because it leaves the door opens for the removal of these restrictions but at least there is still a chance to continue with the debate."