In October 2018, Client Earth, together with WWF Greece and Greenpeace Greece, instituted proceedings against the Greek Planning Authority in respect of two decisions authorising the burning of coal as a means of energy generation.
The first decision relates to a plant which is already in operation, known as Meliti I and the second decision relates to a sister plant yet to be constructed, known as Meliti II.
The proceedings alleged a failure on the part of the Greek Planning Authority to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments to evaluate the potential health, environmental and climate impacts that the installations might have. The proceedings alleged a breach of Greek Law and a breach of European Law in this respect.
The Greek Court upheld the challenge and overturned the renewal of planning permission in respect of Meliti I and the grant of planning permission in respect of Meliti II.
Shortly after this, the Greek Prime Minister announced Greece's plans to phase out the burning of coal as an energy source by the year 2028. State-owned power company PPC then announced it would close all of its existing lignite-fired power plants by the even earlier date of 2023.
The relationship between the burning of coal and climate change is well documented. The relationship between the burning of coal and various health issues is now also being investigated. These recent developments mean the end of the lignite era in Greece and the beginning of a new, cleaner, affordable and efficient energy system. This decision reflects the developing European trend against the burning of coal as a primary source of energy generation.
Written by Barry Magee and Grainne O'Callaghan
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