5 october 2018

[4C Note: We received the following letter on the Hambach Forest coal controversy from a GermanWatch representative to CAN-Europe. You can read our 23 September posting on the treehouse evictions of climate activists here.

A few hours after receiving this letter from GermanWatch, another CAN correspondent circulated an article from Deutsche Welle giving details. We post that below.

Dear all,

After this not so pink week for the (EU) climate policy in/from Germany, here some good news for a change:
The Higher Administrative Court of Münster has ordered a provisional clearing stop in the Hambacher Forest. The judges complied with the request of BUND in this urgent procedure. RWE is not allowed to cut down the forest until it has decided on the claim of the BUND NRW.


German court orders suspension of Hambach Forest clearance

Deutsche Welle, October 5, 2018

Work on clearing a piece of ancient woodland, occupied by protesters, for more lignite mining must be temporarily halted, the court ordered. It was ruling on a lawsuit brought by a prominent German environmental group.

A court in the western German city of Münster on Friday told energy concern RWE that it must desist from clearing the 12,000-year-old Hambach Forest until a lawsuit brought by environmental organization BUND, the German branch of Friends of the Earth, has been decided.

The court said that the documents supporting the lawsuit filled several cartons, making it impossible to decide on the legal issues in an expedited procedure.

RWE had also not adequately proven that clearing the forest was essential for maintaining the energy supply in Germany the court said in its ruling, which overturned a previous one by a lower court in Cologne.

BUND hailed the court's decision, saying it was "really a turning point here in North Rhine-Westphalia," the state in which the forest is situated.

Large protest planned

Plans by RWE to destroy most of the remaining forest to make way for an extension of a lignite mine have triggered long-running protests by activists, with several living in the woodlands in tree houses for more than six years to block clearing activities.

The tree houses were completely dismantled over the past few weeks, leaving RWE free to commence with clearance.

A large-scale rally planned for Saturday has been banned by authorities, with protest organizers, including BUND, Greenpeace and Campact, lodging an appeal that has yet to be decided upon.

In its lawsuit opposing the forest's clearance, BUND has argued that the area falls under the EU's Habitats Directive because of its population of Bechstein's bats.

The Habitats Directive aims to conserve endangered native animals and plants in Europe.

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