Hamburg allows coal-fired plant — with conditions

In what may become a landmark case, the environment minister for Hamburg announced on Tuesday that she would approve a controversial coal-burning power plant for the German city-state if certain conditions are met, Reuters reported.

Anja Hajduk of the Greens party said the plant, proposed for the suburb of Moorburg, could be built by Vattenfall Europe if sufficient safeguards to protect the Elbe River are included.

“It’s a very difficult decision for me,” Hajduk said, “because it’s not the kind of policy for climate protection that I stand for. But due to legal reasons, the construction of the plant cannot be stopped.”

The two-billion-euro (US$2.8 billion) project, with a planned capacity of 1,600 megawatts, would be Germany’s largest coal-fired plant. It would need to be run at reduced load on probably 250 days a year, the ministry said.

Environmental protection groups and many German citizens criticised the project, citing potential harm to fish populations and risks to human health from proven and alleged noxious-dust emissions. Proponents of the plant say it is need to avoid power shortages in the city of two million people.

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