In a victory for local residents and the three non-governmental groups which supported them, the court upheld the decision by the Pomeranian governor (the region the plant was due to be built in) to revoke building permits for Polnoc Power Plant.
Judges agreed with the governor that the regional authority’s decision-making process when awarding the building permits was unlawful. According to the ruling, Starosta Tczewski wrongly constrained citizens’ right to participate in the legal proceedings.
The plant, planned to have a capacity of 1600 MW, would be the biggest new installation of this kind in the EU, firing about 3.7 mln tons of coal and emitting about 8 mln tons of CO2 a year. It was opposed by local residents, who feared the effect it would have on their health and the agricultural land that surrounded it.
The court also agreed with the governor’s opinion that Starosta accepted data and evidence from the investor hoping to build the power plant, Polenergia, without question and gave less weight to evidence from the local community and NGOs.
The evidence from the latter groups, which formed the STOP EP (Polnoc Power Plant) coalition, focused on the understatement of emissions of the most dangerous emissions, such as methane, nitrogen monoxide, dioxin, and furan. What’s more, the investor made no assessment of the possible negative impact of the power plant on water.
Malgorzata Smolak, lawyer for ClientEarth Poland, added: “The court’s ruling affirms that local communities must have a say in such projects. Along with local residents, we had raised objections to this investment, but they had been ignored. We are happy that Pomeranian governor and the court sided with us, and ensured the rule of the law.”
Radosław Slusarczyk, from Association Workshop for All Beings, said: “The court ruled in favor of the local residents. This is a chance for developing the region in line with its undeniable assets – its agriculture, environment, and tourism”.
The court’s decision is not yet legally valid and the investor might bring an appeal. But it still puts the investment into question. This is the second time Polenergia has had building permits overturned. The first time, in 2012, was due to similar reasons.
Despite this, Starosta Tczewski issued a second building permit in March, 2015. And for the second time, the Pomeranian governor decided to revoke it. Polenergia is back to where it started in March 2011, when the investor began its efforts to build Północ Power Plant.
Ilona Jędrasik, firstname.lastname@example.org