Demonstration held against proposed government energy plan

04-03-2004

An angry mob gathered outside the Office of the Government on Wednesday, as the cabinet met to discuss a controversial energy plan put forward by the Ministry of Industry. Over the next 25 years the ministry wants to build two new nuclear reactors and loosen restrictions on coal mining. The latter part of the plan could see two villages in north Bohemia being wiped off the map to make way for new mines. There has been a great deal of opposition to the plan, including from the Ministry of the Environment, which put forward an alternative energy policy. Among those at the demonstration on Wednesday was Vojtech Kotecky of Friends of the Earth, who spoke to Radio Prague's Zuzana Vesela.

Demonstration against the energy plan, photo: CTKDemonstration against the energy plan, photo: CTK "We are here to show the government that the irresponsible energy plan of the Ministry of Industry, which is based on coal and nuclear energy and which will keep the Czech Republic as one of the worst climate polluters within Europe, is simply unacceptable and it has to be rejected."

What in particular disturbs you?

"Well there are three major issues. First of all the Minister of Industry wants to destroy more villages and replace them by coal mines. Second he wants to build two more nuclear reactors and third his policy will keep high emissions of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas."

Do you agree with the alternative energetic strategy, the strategy created by the Ministry of the Enivonment, which is more environmentally friendly?

"I don't agree with every word of this document, but in general I consider it to be a good basis for an energy policy, and the government should definitely prefer this one over the concept of the Ministry of Industry."

Your organisation also criticises the strong lobby.

"Well this is a long-term problem of Czech politics; there is a very strong connection between some departments of the government and particular lobby groups - mining industry, energy or even intensive agriculture lobby. We need to reform this in the long term but considering this energy policy, a decision has to be made immediately."

Demonstration against the energy planDemonstration against the energy plan Do you think that there will be a decision today?

"The decision is already done, the policy will be discussed next week and today's debate was finished."

What do you think will happen in the end?

"I think that there will be a relatively narrow vote because chances for both concepts are relatively split within the cabinet."

Because the government postponed the debate on the state's energy plan, further demonstrations are expected next week.

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