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Court rules against RWE, halting German forest clearance

A German higher administrative court has ruled that energy company RWE and the relevant authorities must temporarily halt the felling of Germany’s Hambach Forest, in response to a case brought by Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND).

Prof. Dr. Hermann E. Ott, head of ClientEarth’s new German office, said: “This is a fantastic legal victory, demonstrating again the power of the law to defend people and nature. It has led the court to do what politicians have long failed to: pave the way for a political decision by Germany’s ‘ coal commission’ before the year is out.

“BUND and its lawyers have secured a decision that may not only save the ancient Hambach Forest, but could set the scene for an effective climate policy, beyond coal, in Germany.”

The court followed BUND’s arguments that clearing the forest would eradicate the local community of bats (Bechstein’s bat), violating a key EU nature law. It ruled no further trees must be cut until the case has reached its conclusion.

The clearcutting will be postponed until at least the end of March – at which point the felling season ends.

RWE’s share price fell 8% today after it published an investor alert about the ruling’s possible effect on its finances.

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