Dramatic Court Ruling: People-Power Prevents Construction of Coal-Fired Power Plant
The community of the western Turkish village of Yirca has experienced a roller coaster of sadness and elation in recent days, winning an important court battle against a coal project but losing 6,000 valuable olive trees.
Just hours after bulldozers from Turkish construction firm Kolin Group flattened the trees to make way for a coal-fired power plant, a Turkish court unanimously declared the project illegal. The resulting publicity from the people-powered lawsuit also saw the Turkish government publicly distance itself from the controversial project.
It was the culmination of an intense three-week period that started on October 21 when Yirca villagers and Greenpeace Mediterranean activists were brutally attacked for trying to protect the trees and prevent construction of Kolin's proposed 510-megawatt coal-fired power plant.
Villagers had been holding nightly vigils to protect the olive grove since then and last Thursday night they were again confronted by security guards employed by Kolin. Villagers were assaulted and detained and then the bulldozers rolled in, destroying the entire grove.
The villagers' sadness and tears of failure soon turned to elation, however, when a Turkish court ruled on Friday, Nov. 7, in favor of the Yirca people and a lawsuit lodged by Greenpeace Mediterranean. The ruling declared the company's attempt to expropriate the land was without legal basis.
The full extent of the ruling only became clear on Monday, Nov. 10, however, when the court explained the rationale of its ruling, stating that Turkey's national olive grove protection law forbids the company from building the power plant at the proposed site.
The court also ruled that the decision cannot be appealed under current regulations.
The ruling is an important step in protecting the environment against irresponsible energy investments. Urgent measures need to be taken so that the events in Yirca are not repeated in other parts of the country.
The ruling is a vindication of the actions taken by the village and Greenpeace Mediterranean in the face of intimidation and the unlawfulness of the company's attempted land grab.
In recent weeks, Kolin's security staff had fenced off the olive grove, raiding it by night to cut the trees down before the court had even had a chance to hand down its ruling. The situation escalated on Thursday night when the remaining trees were destroyed.
Still saddened but backed by the court ruling, villagers started to replant trees over the weekend with the help of Greenpeace Mediterranean.
As the fall-out from Kolin's reckless actions continued, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç said the country "cannot forsake the environment for the rules of wild capitalism," adding that "while the country needs energy, it also needs the trees."
It was a significant acknowledgement of the importance of Turkey's olive groves in a country that is already the world's fourth largest olive producer and has plans to become the world's second biggest in 2023.
Although existing legislation protects olive groves from industrial development, Kolin's coal project sought to bypass the law with an "urgent expropriation" decision from the government's Council of Ministers.
But the Yirca villagers and Greenpeace Mediterranean knew that the law was on their side and that their legal battle was just and legitimate.
Companies like Kolin are a threat to the idea that sustainable energy development doesn't have to come with a price—in this case the olive groves of Yirca and the livelihood of the community.
In a region already suffering badly from dirty coal energy, from dangerous mining to air pollution that is killing thousands of people across Turkey, it is alarming to think there are plans to build another 80 coal-fire powered plants across Turkey.
It means the battle at Yirca is only the first of many more.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Robin Scher
Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.
- Can Urban Farms Prevent Hunger in 54 Million People in the U.S. ... ›
- New Report Finds Malnutrition World's Top Killer Amid Pandemic ... ›
- Oxfam Warns 12,000 Could Die Per Day From Hunger Due to ... ›
- Three Ways to Support a Healthy Food System During the COVID ... ›
- Trump USDA Resumes Effort to Cut Food Stamp Benefits - EcoWatch ›
- Pandemic Threatens Food Security for Many College Students ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.
As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.
- 15 Top Conservation Issues of 2021 Include Big Threats, Potential ... ›
- How Blockchain Could Boost Clean Energy - EcoWatch ›
By David Drake and Jeffrey York
The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.
The Big Idea
People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.
- Major Milestone: More than 100,000 MW Worth of Coal-Fired Power ... ›
- Coal Will Not Bring Appalachia Back to Life, But Tech and ... ›
- Renewables Beat Coal in the U.S. for the First Time This April ... ›