Deputy Environment Minister: Open pit mine spells disaster

Opponents of the construction of an open-cast mine in south-western Greater Poland have received support from the environment ministry. During a conference at the Holy Mountain Sanctuary, the deputy minister of this ministry, Mariusz Gajda, admitted that the exploitation of lignite in this region would entail excessive environmental and social costs. - There will be no water, no life, instead there will be one big desert," stressed the government representative.

The scientific conference "The Oczkowice lignite deposit - proper hydrogeological identification and other conditions" attracted nearly five hundred people to the Sanctuary: local government officials, experts, representatives of non-governmental organisations, ministers, local politicians and a large number of residents of south-western Wielkopolska, who are threatened by the construction of the mine.

This is a topic that transcends divisions, regardless of the political option we represent on a daily basis.

noted Rawicz starost Adam Sperzyński.

In turn, Gostynin starost Robert Marcinkowski emphasised:

What is at stake is not only our future, but that of the next generations. Oczkowice is only the first step towards turning our agricultural region into a mining and energy basin. We will defend this land.

The scientists present at the meeting presented expert reports which made it clear what fate awaits south-western Wielkopolska after the construction of the mine. They also pointed out errors in the hydrogeological documentation prepared by the investor, PAK Mining.

Due to the dewatering of the quarry, areas up to 25 kilometres from its borders will dry up. However, lack of water is not the only threat. A deterioration in its quality will also be a problem, mainly due to brine, i.e. unusable deep water, which will have to be pumped to the surface

warned Professor Jan Przybyłek, a geologist from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.

Dr Benedykt Peplinski from the University of Life Sciences in Poznan also did not have good news for local farmers and entrepreneurs. - Water shortages will significantly reduce agricultural production. All forecasts say that in 35 years the demand for food will double, so we should invest in improving the efficiency of food production rather than liquidating one of the best agricultural regions in the country. All the more so because the value of the coal in the Oczkowice deposit is lower than the anticipated losses in agriculture and agri-food processing caused by the construction of the mine.

Much space was also devoted to the issue of legal protection of the deposit. Leszek Wenderski of the Entrepreneurship for Ecology Association explained that the vision of entering lignite resources in the register is already deterring entrepreneurs from investing. - It may soon turn out that we will not be able to build any building on our land, as it may hinder access to the minerals in the future. How can we talk about the development of the region in such a situation? Claiming that coal is an opportunity for all of us is a complete misnomer," said Leszek Wenderski. And Sylwia Maćkowiak of the Our Home Association appealed to the politicians present: - It is not too late. All decisions can be reversed. We have the right to live peacefully and not to worry about what awaits us in 5, 10 or 15 years.

Deputy Environment Minister Mariusz Gajda had good news for the region's residents. In his view, south-western Wielkopolska is too important for Polish agriculture to be destroyed by building a mine.

I am completely on the side of the residents. Environmental and social costs have to be taken into account in such investments. In this case, there is no doubt - from a water management point of view, the construction of the mine will be a disaster. There will be no water, no life, instead there will be one big desert. These lands should continue to produce good and healthy food, so we need to permanently protect them from such ideas. We are even prepared to change the law so that there will be no mines here.

declared the government representative. He was echoed by Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Dziedziczak, who assured that as long as his formation was in power, the mine in south-western Wielkopolska would certainly not be built.

The politicians pledged to forward the conclusions of the conference to Prime Minister Beata Szydło and the environment and energy ministers. The plans to build the mine are also to be discussed by the parliamentary energy team.


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