POLAND has said it will defy a European Union demand to close a coal mine despite being ordered to pay £429,000 every day it ignores a ruling by the bloc’s top court to shut the operation.
The penalty was issued by the European Court of Justice after four months of Warsaw ignoring an earlier diktat to suspend operations at the Turow opencast mine on its border with the Czech Republic. The Polish government insisted it would continue to extract lignite, a low-quality brown coal, from the facility to protect the country’s energy security. The mine fuels a power station that provides about seven percent of the country’s electricity supply and employs some 3,600 people.
A government spokesman fumed: “The fine mentioned by the court is disproportionate to the situation and is not justified by facts.
“It undermines the ongoing process of reaching an amicable settlement.”
Justice minister Marcin Romanowski added: “The ECJ demands half a million daily fines from Poland for the fact that Poland did not leave its citizens without energy and did not close the mines overnight.
“It is judicial robbery and theft in broad daylight. You won’t get a cent.”
Poland and the Czech Republic are currently negotiating a compromise solution, according to Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
He has previously said he wants an amicable end to the dispute.
Communities in Germany and the Czech Republic have long blamed Turow for draining their groundwater and causing dangerous levels of noise and air pollution.
The mine, owned by the state-owned utility company PGE, has been in operation since 1904.