Water law permit for Jänschwalde opencast mine expired at the turn of the year
Cottbus, 04.01.2023. The permit for the Jänschwalde open-cast mine to pump groundwater expired on 31.12.2022, but the open-cast mine will apparently continue to operate without a new permit. This creates facts in a legal vacuum, criticises the environmental network GRÜNE LIGA.
"Since 1996, all parties involved knew when the permit would expire, but a decision on the time after that has not been made until today. The coal company LEAG has delayed the procedure with late and incomplete applications and is not prevented by the mining authority from creating further facts. It is very difficult to believe in the rule of law here," says René Schuster of the GRÜNE LIGA.
LEAG has applied for a new permit under water law to continue pumping groundwater until 2044, after coal mining in Jänschwalde is to end at the end of 2023. The public will still be involved in the application until 31 January, and it will not be possible to conclude the process for several months.
"Presumably, the mining authority has issued a so-called mining law order for the interim period. But this instrument is not there to deliberately circumvent all environmental laws. Groundwater is Brandenburg's most important mineral resource, and anyone who wants to extract more than 10 million cubic metres needs an environmental impact assessment. The open-cast mine will exceed this amount in a few weeks," says Schuster.
Deutsche Umwelthilfe and GRÜNE LIGA had already taken legal action against the opencast mine last year because it has been exceeding the groundwater extraction permitted until 2022 by many millions of cubic metres for years. In May 2022, the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg surprisingly considered the interpretation of the then still valid water law permit to be too difficult to stop the opencast mining in summary proceedings. Whether the approval of the main operating plan was unlawful had to be clarified in the main proceedings. To date, the mining authority (Brandenburg State Office for Mining, Geology and Raw Materials) has not decided on the environmental associations' objection.