• Germany edition
 
Police clear forest camp for coal excavation
Photo: DPA

Police clear forest camp for coal excavation

Published: 14 Nov 2012 11:43 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Nov 2012 11:43 GMT+01:00

Around 500 police officers moved into the elaborate tree-house village in Hambach forest near Kerpen, North Rhine-Westphalia at dawn on Tuesday to forcibly remove activists protesting plans by German energy giant RWE to excavate brown coal in the area.

While the operation stayed largely peaceful, police told the Rheinische Post newspaper on Wednesday, the protesters put up considerable passive resistance.

Police were still removing activists from the camp on Wednesday morning after two had chained themselves to a tree 20 metres above ground and another buried himself deep underground.

Six special commando police officers and a doctor abseiled onto the roof of one tree house in which two activists had put up their last stand early on Wednesday.

Dismantling the tree-house around them, police succeeded after several hours in taking the demonstrators into custody, wrote the paper. The delicate task of digging out the demonstrator from his underground hidey-hole will take some time, said police.

Working through the night, the unit used cranes to demolish the activists' improvised treetop eco-village, in which several structures were linked by rope bridges.

In all, five of the 22 activists arrested in the operation remained in police custody on Wednesday and face 100 charges of damage, trespassing, slander, public disturbance, robbery and coercion, wrote the paper.

RWE are waiting to take control of the forest to excavate brown coal, or lignite, a controversial carbon-rich substance currently responsible for generating 24.6 percent of Germany's energy supply in steam power plants.

Critics of the German government's energy policy say it is unacceptable to raise C02 emissions by relying on coal as the country moves to switch off all its nuclear power plants by 2022.

In order to extract the brown coal from the ground this winter, RWE will cut down 3,900 hectares of the 12,000-year-old oak and hornbeam Hambach forest, leaving just 300 hectares in tact.

"Now we want to excavate there and we have to prepare the area for that as soon as possible," RWE spokesman Manfred Lang told Rheinische Post. "For conservation purposes we are only allowed to dig during the winter months - that's why we are in such a hurry."

The protesters, who have been occupying the forest since April, have received support from members of the Green party, the Left party and Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND).

Solidarity protests against brown coal excavation have been planned in Cologne, Essen, Münster Berlin and Hamburg.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:25 November 14, 2012 by lucksi
"For conservation purposes we are only allowed to dig during the winter months - that's why we are in such a hurry."

Whut?

You'd be cutting down the same amount of trees in the summer, so what are you conserving?

I was not allowed to tear down a building during winter because it could be that animals use it over the cold months. Never mind that there were no animals inside or nests or whatever, just that they could...
Today's headlines
Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola
A Liberian man holds his daughter as they wait for treatment for suspected Ebola symptoms in Monrovia. Photo: DPA

Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola

Germany and France will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday. READ  

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany made it harder Friday for people from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia to apply for asylum after lawmakers classified the three Balkan countries as safe, with respect for basic rights. READ  

German Muslims rally against extremism
Muslims pray in Kreuzberg, Berlin, on Friday outside a mosque which was damaged in an arson attack. Photo: DPA

German Muslims rally against extremism

Muslims across Germany held a day of prayers and rallies on Friday to condemn both Islamic extremism and a backlash against their faith that has seen arson attacks on mosques. READ  

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup
The trainers on the air strip in Hohn, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: Bundeswehr.

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup

Military trainers flew to northern Iraq from Germany on Friday, ahead of a huge delivery of weapons from the German military, but things didn’t initially go as planned. READ  

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches
Photo: DPA

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches

UPDATE: Munich will play host to four Euro 2020 games, European football’s governing body Uefa announced in Geneva on Friday, but London was the real winner. READ  

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils
The scene by the bus stop outside the school in Diepholz. Photo: DPA

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils

An 18-year-old drove into a group of students outside a school in western Germany on Friday morning, injuring several. READ  

View from Germany
'In a globalized world we don't need more loners'
'No' campaign supporters celebrate in Edinburgh after the results were announced. Photo: DPA

'In a globalized world we don't need more loners'

UPDATE: The German government welcomed the result of the Scottish independence referendum on Friday, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier calling it the "right decision". READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's beer
Photo: DPA

Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's beer

The Local's Oktoberfest guide chugs some of the Bavarian tipple fueling this whole shindig. READ  

Berlin squat ripped apart by fire
Kreuzberg's Cuvrybrache. Photo: DPA

Berlin squat ripped apart by fire

UPDATE: One of Berlin’s biggest squats was torn apart by a fire on Thursday night following an argument. READ  

Sterilized woman gets pregnant, sues doctors
Photo: DPA

Sterilized woman gets pregnant, sues doctors

A woman who gave birth after becoming sterilized has tried and failed to sue the hospital which carried out the operation. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's tents
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Drunk teachers ruin school trip to Hamburg
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Oktoberfest 2014: The best and worst in dirndl fashion
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,348
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd