Activists have been camping for days.
Energy company RWE has announced this Wednesday that it will begin “de-commissioning” the Rhenish lignite town of Letzerath. “As one of the first steps, a good fence of one and a half kilometer length will be erected for security reasons,” the committee said in the morning. “This represents the company’s own construction site, where the remaining buildings, utilities, roads and canals of the former settlement will be cleared in the next few weeks. Trees, bushes will be removed,” he said.
Hundreds of police officers have moved forward and cordoned off the place, leaving the company open and suggesting to the police whether the evacuation will begin now. In turn, he only confirmed that “expect an evacuation any time from Wednesday.” A police media spokesperson announced further containment measures at the location. Lützerath may be surrounded by police during the operation.
As reported by dpa correspondents, early Wednesday morning, the strongest emergency services around Lutzerat were already put together. It was raining heavily, the wind was blowing hard and the ground was wet. Police officials are reporting the first incidents. Aachen police headquarters said on Wednesday that stones and pyrotechnics were thrown in the direction of police officers. In addition, Molotov cocktails were thrown and camps with projectiles were found. The police appealed to the protesters to behave peacefully.
Climate activists occupy the abandoned settlement and want to resist the announced eviction. “All necessary permits and court decisions have been made, and all of the original residents have long since left the site,” RWE stressed. “The company regrets that the upcoming disposal can only take place under extensive police protection and that opponents of opencast mining are calling for illegal disruptive activities and criminal offences.”
“Even when it rains, people are determined”
The energy company argued that the coal under Lützerath was needed to save gas for power generation in Germany during the energy crisis. Activists deny this and point to a study by scientists from several universities who came together as the “CoalExit Research Group”. Accordingly, there is always enough coal in the current mining area – even under the conditions of the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.
According to Aachen police chief Dirk Weinsbach, the rapid evacuation of the protest village was one of the most challenging operations in recent years. The police receive support from all over Germany. Activists have set up about 25 tree houses, some at great heights.
“Even if it rains, people are determined,” activist Lakshmi said in Lutseram on Wednesday morning. “We will continue to use siege tactics to resist the police force.”
Police have started evacuation
“The evacuation of #Lützerath has begun. The area is fenced off. People in the cordoned-off area are now likely to leave the area without further police action,” emergency services wrote on Twitter, which has long been abandoned by residents in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. “Without further consequences for you. You may leave the area now,” the police announced over loudspeakers in the morning. But clashes broke out between activists and security forces.
Friday for the Future spokeswoman Pauline Brünger previously insisted her organization prefers peaceful demonstrations. “We intend to oppose ourselves with a broad movement.” “Coal must be in the ground” is important.
Lützerath is a district of the city of Erkelenz in western North Rhine-Westphalia with a population of 43,000. Nestled in the middle of the fields, the hamlet now sits directly on the edge of the Karsweiler lignite opencast mine. The coal below must be mined to generate electricity.
The conflict over Lützerath has been ongoing for months, and the site has become a central landmark for climate protection activists from across Germany. The long-announced evacuation involving the police, known as administrative assistance, has been anxiously awaited because of potential escalations. (SDA/AFP)
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