Protests as German village makes way for coal mine

BERLIN– Scuffles broke out on Monday outside a village in western Germany that is to be razed to allow for the expansion of a coal mine, a project that is drawing resistance from climate activists.

Activists threw fireworks, bottles and rocks at police outside the village of Luetzerath before the situation calmed down and the officers withdrew, German news agency dpa reported. .

The demonstrators had previously erected a burning barricade, and one of them stuck his hand to the access road.

The hamlet is to be demolished to expand the Garzweiler lignite mine, despite protests from environmentalists who fear millions of additional tonnes of heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere.

The activists live in houses abandoned by former residents.

The Heinsberg County administration has issued an order barring people from Luetzerath and, if they do not leave, allowing police to clean up the village beginning Jan. 10. Officials have called for a non-violent end to the occupation of activists.

In October, the federal and regional governments – both of which include the green environmentalist party – and energy company RWE agreed to bring forward the exit from coal use in the region by eight years to 2030.

But, amid concerns over Germany’s energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the deal also provides that the life of two power plants that were supposed to be shut down earlier will be extended until 2024 at least and that Luetzerath will be razed to allow for further mining.


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