German regional government cuts environmental law to save E.on coal plant

GERMANY: The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has struck off the environment protection paragraph in the state spatial planning law to save a coal station project.

E.on's Datteln coal power plant is planned for North Rhine-Westphalia
E.on's Datteln coal power plant is planned for North Rhine-Westphalia

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Renewables thereby lose vital support and the wind lobby says expansion from the 2.8GW already installed in NRW to up to 4.5GW by 2020 is now called into question.

The drama began in September 2009 when the NRW higher administrative court ruled that the local development plan for a 1GW coal-fired power station, already under construction by German energy giant E.on, was invalid.

Among the reasons set out in the court's 100-page judgement announced on September 3, 2009, was that the aims of the state spatial planning law were not fulfilled in several respects. One of these was the requirement to use domestic and renewable energies. The coal unit will use coal sourced from overseas.


As the shock over the judgement sank in and the future of not only E.on's EUR1.2 billion project, but up to eleven new coal units planned or under construction in the state was called into doubt, the conservative CDU and liberal FDP parties forming the NRW coalition government moved fast to rescue the schemes.


E.on's website: the company is feeling upbeat about the project


On December 17, 2009, the coalition steered through parliament an amendment scrapping the section of the state spatial planning law requiring energy supply to be sufficient, secure, environmentally friendly and as reasonably priced as possible, and that domestic and renewable forms of energy should be prioritised.

The German Wind Energy Association criticised the move, complaining that "instead of steadily pushing on the expansion of renewable energies in NRW, the state government is kowtowing to the established energy companies and doing a backward roll into outdated fossil-fired energy generation".

It adds that the NRW parliament's vote sent a fatal signal to the climate conference in Copenhagen and torpedoed the government's climate protection targets.

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