• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Police clear forest camp for coal excavation

The Local · 14 Nov 2012, 11:43

Published: 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."

Story continues below…

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
No injuries after blast near Bavarian migrant centre
A sign at the Zirndorf migrant centre. Photo: DPA

A suitcase, likely packed with aerosol cans, has blown up near a migrant centre on the outskirts of Nuremberg, causing no injuries, police confirm.

Not your average student digs: 'amazing' plastic bubble
Photo: DPA

Could this wacky experiment be the future of student housing?

Police settle train violence over smelly feet
Not the feet in question. Photo: Caitlin Regan/Flickr

A fellow passenger's foot odour proved too much for one traveller to stomach.

How Berliners are responding to the Bavaria attacks
Photo: DPA

Is fear of terrorism creeping up on the capital?

Munich gunman was far-right racist: media reports
Photo: DPA

According to research by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the Munich gunman was proud to have been born on the same day as Hitler and hated Turks and Arabs.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach bomber ‘influenced’ by third person: officials
Photo: DPA

Officials in Bavaria have said that the man who blew himself up in an apparent Islamist attack on Sunday was influenced by an as yet unknown person.

What is the link between the attacks in Germany last week?
Police on guard in Munich. Photo: DPA

And how likely are 'copycat' attacks?

Rights experts call for calm after string of violent attacks
Bavaria has called for soldiers to protect the German border. Photo: DPA

Human rights groups and legal experts are warning the government to react responsibly to the attacks and rampages which have taken place in Germany in recent days.

France church attacker had been arrested in Germany
Photo: DPA

A neighbour described the man as a "ticking time bomb".

Dutch join hunt for German terrorists-turned-outlaws
From left to right: Ernst-Volker Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: DPA.

Dutch police on Tuesday told people to be on the lookout for three German far-left militants, at large for decades and suspected of a string of recent heists.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
11,008
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd