Agios Dimitrios power plant, Greece

Greece’s biggest power plant faces additional challenges as court hearing looms

Environmental organisations have submitted additional challenges to Greece’s biggest lignite-fired power plant, Agios Dimitrios.

The challenge brought by WWF Greece, Greenpeace Greece and Kozani Ecological Movement in cooperation with ClientEarth, seeks to annul the power plant’s environmental permit – issued in 2016 – for its failure to comply with EU laws.

The Greek state extended the outdated permit for an additional ten years despite it failing to meet the requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), as EU and national laws require.

ClientEarth lawyer, Eleni Diamantopoulou said: “The Greek government has a duty to protect its citizens and the environment from the harmful effects of pollution – and hold accountable whoever fails to do so.

“By extending the life-time of one of Greece’s most polluting plants in Europe, without complying with EU environmental legislation, it’s choosing not to plan for a more sustainable future – one that puts the health of Europeans and the environment at the forefront of its priorities.”

Agios Dimitrios is ranked among the top 30 most polluting plants according to ‘Europe’s Dark Cloud’ report. It is estimated to be responsible for hundreds of premature deaths a year in Greece and in Europe, which costs approximately €400 million per year.

WWF Greece Climate and Energy Policy Officer Nikos Mantzaris said: “Agios Dimitrios is a major polluter, gravely compromising human health, the environment and the climate.

“It is therefore imperative it applies, as soon as possible, the most modern technologies in order to reduce the serious negative impacts it is having on public health and the environment.”

An initial challenge to the permit was made in November 2016 but new, tougher legal emission limits came into force after that challenge was made. The permit authorities also failed to consult the public when considering the impacts the power plant may have on human health, the environment and the climate across Europe.

These obligations, in force across the EU, form part of the additional challenges just submitted by the group.

The hearing for this case is scheduled for later this month.

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Tilemahos Efthimiadis

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