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Farmer takes legal action to block new Bulgarian coal mine

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World Coal,

As a Bulgarian coal company prepares to dig an opencast coal mine spanning three villages, a local farmer has launched a legal case to stop it.

Emil Mirchev, who has farmed his family land in Aldomirovtsi for decades, has filed a legal case to have the Bulgarian Council of Ministers’ decision, allowing the mine, overturned. He has received legal assistance from campaigning coalition Za Zemiata Access to Justice and environmental lawyers ClientEarth in preparing the suit.

Mirchev said: “We are against the mine because its opening will severely damage the quality of life in at least three villages in the region. The mine is near a water catchment area and there is a real danger of polluting it. Also, the heavy transporting equipment to and from the mine will ruin the brand new infrastructure. Mining will put an end to agriculture and faming which are very important for people here. Our fertile land is worth much more to us and our children than the money they will pay us as compensation.”

The Slivnitsa mine would cover a 2 km2 expanse of land. The mine is slated to be open for 30 years, despite the economic case for coal rapidly disappearing across Europe and stark warnings from international climate experts that no coal capacity should remain open in the OECD countries beyond 2030.

As a compromise for allowing the mine, the municipality of Slivnitsa is expected to receive a small annual concession fee of €9200.

As Mirchev launches the case, the town is protesting too. A petition is circulating, signed by the mayor himself.

ClientEarth lawyer Dominique Doyle said: “Europe is moving away from coal and this mine, set to be open for 30 years, cannot be justified. Looking ahead, we may see the EU legislate to move the bloc beyond coal – investment in a mine like this is exceptionally short-sighted.”

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