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Romanian court cancels environment permit for Rosia lignite coal mine expansion

A Bucharest court annulled the environment permit for the felling of another 159 hectares of forest in Gorj country, effectively preventing the expansion of the Roșia lignite mine.

Ruling on a case brought by Bankwatch Romania and Greenpeace Romania, the Bucharest Tribunal overturned the permit because it was granted only for deforestation works that would not otherwise be necessary if the Oltenia Energy Complex did not intend to expand its facilities at the Roșia lignite quarry.

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The permit was also said to ignore provisions of the Romania Forestry Code, which mandates that forested lands may only be removed from the National Forests Register if compensation works are undertaken.

“Cutting huge chunks of forest in an area where millions of tonnes of coal are burned every year just to dig up even more coal is absurdity at its best. Expanding the quarry in this region would mean more pollution, more dust and more noise, all problems for which locals need to bear the brunt,” said Alexandru Mustață, Bankwatch Romania campaigner.

“Evaluating the environmental impacts of such a project is essential. Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity, and for the environment permit to omit such an assessment is unacceptable,” said Ionut Cepraga of Greenpeace Romania.

Permitting issues have long plagued the Oltenia Energy Complex, where several lignite extraction projects are located. Yesterday’s annulment is the most recent in a series of similar decisions, including two from earlier in the year related to the expansion of the Pinoasa lignite quarry, a ruling that saved 210 hectares of forest.

As defendants, the Gorj Environmental Protection Agency and the Oltenia Energy Complex can appeal the court decision within fifteen days. The court’s decision was not yet formally communicated to the parties.


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