The International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River against Pollution has considered Turów and the whole lignite mining as a supra-regional problem. It means that Poland won’t be able to sweep the problems generated by the opencast under the rug. Nor are the Czechs willing to agree to dodging responsibility for its destructive activity, and after discussions with the Polish side before the European Commission, they are preparing a list of demands. Also the founders of “Łużycki Zielony Ład” (Lusatian Green Deal) talk more and more about the necessity to deal with Turów.
On November, 23-24, a plenary meeting of the International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River against Pollution took place. All the delegations agreed to consider lignite mining, including the Turów mine, as one of the supra-regional problems. Now, Poland, Germany and Czechia will have to come up with a common plan on how to counteract negative effects of the opencasts’ operations.
By March, 22, 2021 a project regarding international water management plan for Odra basin waters will be published. It will include information about this supra-regional problem and proposed solutions. Next, the public will have 6 months for submitting comments. The final international plan will be approved by the end of 2021 and will be valid until 2027.
Before the event, letters were sent to the Polish ICPO delegates, signed by NGOs, MPs, MEPs. An appeal was published as well, signed by 23 MEPs, 25 MPs from Poland, Czechia and Germany, 52 European NGOs, local authorities and artists.
The document signatories appealed to ICPO to “listen to the citizens of Czechia, Germany and Poland and include lignite mining, and in particular Turów mine, on the list of supra-regional problems, coped by all three countries in a coordinated way”.
The appeal was signed, among others, by MEPs Janina Ochojska; Sylwia Spurek; Róża Thun; Polish MPs Tomasz Aniśko; Klaudia Jachira; Daria Gosek-Popiołek; Anita Sowińska; Franciszek Sterczewski; Małgorzata Tracz; Urszula Sara Zielińska; Diana Lelonek.
5 days after the event, the journalists from the website Zgorzelec.info were the first to write about the conversations between Poland and Czech Republic regarding the Turów open-pit mine, led by the European Commission. A mysterious silence of Polish media regarding this topic is explained by the editors in two ways.
Either “the Polish side really neglected the issue and didn’t prepare the topic and after the mentioned list will have been shared by the Czech Republic, next time it will be all good. However, it's better to solve the issue amicably by the end of the year, than to keep everyone suspended and litigate in the Tribunal of Justice.”
Or “such behavior of the Polish side may indicate that the issue of the open-pit mine has already been taken off the table, and the problematic mine will be shut down by the Czechs and the European Commission”.
Michał Tabaka from spiderweb, while commenting the information from Zgorzelec, adds that “supposedly, the government has already decided about mine gradual shutdown, which would explain the lack of activity during the last Brussels talks”. It is also about giving a clear message to the public that Turów is being padlocked by the Czechs and the European Commission and not by anyone from Mateusz Morawiecki government”.
Piotr Myszor from WNP on the other hand, notices that “in Poland, the issue also stirs up mixed feelings − on one hand, the petition in defense of the mine was signed by 30 thousand citizens, on the other hand, nearby localities rise up against its activity. Opinions are appearing as well regarding the decreasing importance of the power plant, which produces less and less electricity and is surrounded by broader and broader belt of renewable energy sources”.
The words of Piotr Myszor cited above refer, among others, to an article published in November in „Łużycki Zielony Ład”. The local government from Zgorzelecki district, associated in Związek Gmin Ziemi Zgorzeleckiej [Zgorzelecki Area Districts Association], Klaster Zgorzelecki [Zgorzelecki Cluster ] and Komitet Transformacji Zagłębia Turoszowskiego [Turoszów Basin Transformation Committee] signed a Declaration of Cooperation “„Łużycki Zielony Ład”(Lusatian Green Deal), as part of energy transformation of Turoszów Basin. Alina Pogoda, on the website sprawiedliwa-transformacja.pl, stresses that the local authorities are waiting with impatience for PGE to announce its decision of mine and power plant shut-down. They want “a safe transformation, possibly least noticeable economically and socially both for the residents of the region and the employees of the mining sector and the accompanying sectors.”
However, the condition for receiving the funds from Just Transition Fund is a declaration of gradual shutdown of the mine's and power plant's operations.
– For the regions’ inhabitants, the key requirements to obtain the funds for transition is the shutdown of Turów mine and power plant. Let's remember, however, that the transition is a process and before an adequate power of new sources is created together with a huge energy storage (in the form of pumped storage), the PGE complex should gradually reduce its power. − stresses Albert Gryszczuk, the president of Zgorzelec Cluster that acts in the Zgorzelec district.
The petition in defense of Turów will be examined during the session on December, 2, 2020. The petition, supported by PGE, was sent in June this year to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The local government leaders from Zgorzelec, Bolesławiec and Lubań regions expressed their “concern with the actions of our Czech neighbors, whose goal is the closure of the mining and energy complex in Turow.” They are afraid of mine and power plant closure and jobs losses.