Police vehicles at the edge of the Garzweiler II opencast mine. Photo: Henning Kaiser/dpa
The energy company RWE has announced that it will start “dismantling” the Rhenish lignite town of Lützerath this Wednesday. “As one of the first measures, a fence that is a good one and a half kilometers long will be erected for safety reasons,” the group said in the morning. “It marks the company’s own construction site, where the remaining buildings, ancillary facilities, roads and canals of the former settlement will be dismantled over the next few weeks. Trees and bushes will also be removed.”
Hundreds of police officers have advanced and have surrounded the place, whether the eviction will now begin, the company left open and referred to the police. In turn, she only confirmed that “an eviction can be expected at any time from Wednesday”. A police spokesman announced further blocking measures of the place. Lützerath could be surrounded by the police during the operation.
Early on Wednesday morning, strong emergency services were already drawn together around Lützerath, as dpa reporters reported. It was raining heavily and persistently, a strong wind was blowing, the ground was soggy.
Climate activists have occupied the abandoned settlement and want to oppose the announced eviction. “All the necessary permits and court decisions have been made, and all of the original residents have long since left the site,” emphasized RWE. “The company regrets that the upcoming dismantling can only take place under extensive police protection and that opponents of the opencast mine are calling for illegal disruptive actions and criminal offenses.”
“Despite the rain, people are determined”
The coal, which lies under Lützerath, is needed to save gas for power generation in Germany during the energy crisis, the energy company argued. The activists deny this and refer, among other things, to a study by scientists from several universities who have come together as the “CoalExit Research Group”. According to this, the coal in the current mining area is always sufficient – even under the conditions of the energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war.
According to Aachen police chief Dirk Weinspach, the forthcoming evacuation of the protest village is one of the most challenging operations of recent years. The police receive support from all over Germany. Activists have erected around 25 tree houses, some at great heights.
“Despite the rain, people are determined,” said activist Lakshmi on Wednesday morning in Lützerath. “We will continue to use blockade techniques to oppose the police force.”
Lützerath is a district of the 43,000-inhabitant town of Erkelenz in western North Rhine-Westphalia. The hamlet, located in the middle of fields, is now located directly on the edge of the Garzweiler lignite opencast mine. The coal underneath is to be mined to generate electricity. (SDA)