Financial support for the BUND lawsuits against the Datteln 4 hard coal-fired power plant
Mercury emissions into the river Lippe (waste water from the cooling tower), pollutant deposits in the European FFH protected areas Cappenberger Wälder and Lippeauen, noise pollution and handling of hazardous substances such as ammonia on the power plant site – this is the summary of the new coal-fired power plant Datteln 4. While distances of 1,000 metres to residential buildings are being debated for wind power plants and even 1,500 metres have been decided in NRW, Datteln 4 is located less than 450 metres away from a residential area. On top of that, there is a children’s hospital within a 1,000-metre radius, where e.g. lung diseases are treated. To make matters worse, due to pending legal proceedings, the commissioning of the hard-coal-fired power plant was illegal.
The company Uniper obtains the coal for the power plant mainly from high-risk countries. Especially in Russia and Colombia, the raw material is mined with fatal ecological effects and disregard for human rights. In Colombia, 55,000 people were displaced and the murder of around 3,100 people by paramilitary institutions are linked to the coal companies.
As early as 2007, BUND successfully filed a lawsuit against the Datteln 4 project and obtained an initial temporary halt to the project’s construction. The operator at the time, E.ON., committed to demolish and re-cultivate the power plant if it failed in the final court case. In 2008, BUND filed another lawsuit against the permits. In 2012, as a result of BUND’s lawsuits, the notice of approval for construction and operation was finally overturned completely and work on the power plant was stopped.
Construction should have been stopped and the site deconstructed, as E.ON had once promised. Instead, the state government of the time, made up of the SPD and the Greens, adapted the law and made a decision to deviate from the objectives, which made it possible to change the regional planning projects. The city of Datteln was able to draw up a new development plan. In 2015, BUND reacted to this new development plan with a standards control complaint. Nevertheless, in 2017 the state government granted a new immission control permit for the power plant, which at the time already belonged to the E.ON subsidiary company Uniper. BUND is also suing against this permit.
Fortunately, BUND has been able to win every lawsuit against Datteln 4 so far, and lawsuits are still pending. The fact is: Datteln 4 is still in operation without a legal permit. On top of that, the federal government disregarded the recommendations of the “Growth, Structural Change and Employment” commission set up in 2018, which it promised to implement one-to-one. Its final report states on page 62:
“The Commission continues to recommend that the construction of new coal-fired power plants no longer be authorised. For power plants that have already been built but are not yet in operation, the Commission recommends seeking a negotiated solution not to bring these power plants into operation.”
Since 2020, the Finnish energy group Fortum has held the majority shares in Uniper. DB and RWE are bound by long-term purchase agreements to buy the coal-fired electricity. Even RWE no longer wants the overpriced coal-fired electricity and has tried several times to dissolve the contract without success. BUND is fighting ceaselessly for the decommissioning of the climate and health killer Datteln 4 and still has three lawsuits pending. With a donation of 20,000 euros, we support the legal steps on the part of BUND and hope for an early end to this debacle. It is encouraging at this point that BUND has already saved the Hambach Forest through successful legal proceedings.