Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Dramatic Court Ruling: People-Power Prevents Construction of Coal-Fired Power Plant

Energy

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.

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. Photo credit: Greenpeace

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.

Villagers replant olive trees with the help of Greenpeace Mediterranean. Photo credit: Greenpeace

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

Millennials Demand Climate Action

8 Ways GOP Leadership Plans to Trash the Planet

Public Opposition Costs Tar Sands Industry a Staggering $17B

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The CDC has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guido Mieth / Moment / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
A California newt (Taricha torosa) from Napa County, California, USA. Connor Long / CC BY-SA 3.0

Aerial photos of the Sierra Nevada — the long mountain range stretching down the spine of California — showed rust-colored swathes following the state's record-breaking five-year drought that ended in 2016. The 100 million dead trees were one of the most visible examples of the ecological toll the drought had wrought.

Now, a few years later, we're starting to learn about how smaller, less noticeable species were affected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market.
Natthawat / Moment / Getty Images

Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market, raising concerns for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threatened legal recourse against retailers selling unregistered products, according to The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A customer packs groceries in reusable bags at a NYC supermarket on March 1, 2020. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily routine into disarray. Billions are housebound, social contact is off-limits and an invisible virus makes up look at the outside world with suspicion. No surprise, then, that sustainability and the climate movement aren't exactly a priority for many these days.

Read More Show Less
Ingredients are displayed for the Old School Pinto Beans from the Decolonize Your Diet cookbook by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel. Melissa Renwick / Toronto Star via Getty Images

By Molly Matthews Multedo

Livestock farming contributes to global warming, so eating less meat can be better for the climate.

Read More Show Less