Polish protest coalmine

Farmers in western Poland have predicted civil unrest if permission is granted for the construction of a huge new coalmine and power plant in the Krobia and Miejska Górka region, according to the Guardian.

The area is known for its food exports, including tomatoes and sugar beet relied upon by Heinz Ketchup in the UK, as well as a windfarm that protesters say would have to be demolished to make way for the brown lignite mine proposed by Polish energy firm PAK.

According to experts, 22 villages could be destroyed, with 5,800 people facing compulsory purchase orders for their land.

In addition to individuals, 18 local companies have joined the campaign against the project, fearing a drop in production, a rise in air pollution and a major depletion of local water tables.

Heinz, the region's biggest employer, expressed concerns that sales could be hurt by the loss of the region's green image.

Trade unions have also got behind the campaign, as fears grow over likely redundancies.

Benedykt Pepliński of Poznan University warned that the lost agricultural production from the new mine could reach €1.3bn-€2.4bn over a 50-year period.

“Experience from previous opencast pit mines proves that after mining operations have ended, the quality and quantity of agricultural production is much lower than before because of problems with the underground water system,” he said. “For sure, 60 per cent of the agricultural land here would be lost forever.”