`Turkish Parliament Stops Coal Mining Operations in Olive Groves - Olive Oil Times

Turkish Parliament Stops Coal Mining Operations in Olive Groves

By Paolo DeAndreis
Jan. 9, 2023 19:53 UTC

The Turkish Parliament will not dis­cuss a pro­posed bill allow­ing coal min­ing oper­a­tions next to or within olive groves.

The rul­ing Justice and Development Party (AKP) sup­ported the highly con­tro­ver­sial mea­sure. Still, it was dis­missed after a heated ses­sion of the Parliament’s Energy Commission.

The bil­l’s pro­mot­ers aimed to make the vast coal reserves in the country’s west­ern Aegean region and south­ern coast­line along the Mediterranean Sea acces­si­ble. They cited the need to sus­tain the oper­a­tions of at least three elec­tric­ity-pro­duc­ing plants.

Those are the areas where most of Turkey’s olive farm­ing takes place. Many farm­ers, vil­lagers and national envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions have protested the pro­posal.

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As those oppos­ing the pro­posal entered the Commission with olive branches in their hands, Mustafa Elitas, AKP group deputy chair, said, if a energy cri­sis occurs in the com­ing years, blame will be on those who try to impress us here by mak­ing a crown from an olive branch.”

Opposition law­mak­ers sided with the pro­test­ers and asked for the pro­posed bil­l’s repeal, argu­ing that it aimed at plun­der­ing nature” when food secu­rity and the cli­mate are at stake. They warned against the destruc­tion of forests and olive orchards, which would be trig­gered by the estab­lish­ment of new coal mines.

Our friends are right in their reac­tions. However, we are con­cerned about the oper­a­tion of three power plants in a period of energy cri­sis in Europe. Our aim is not to dis­trib­ute money to any­one,” Elitas added in his clos­ing state­ments. The ses­sion ended when AKP agreed to remove the pro­vi­sion from the pro­posed bill.

Retracting the arti­cle that green-lit the mines comes after sev­eral years of intense polit­i­cal debate. It all began in November 2020, when the Parliament turned down the first pro­posal.

In March 2022, the gov­ern­ment intro­duced changes to energy reg­u­la­tions that were pub­lished in the Official Gazette and con­sti­tuted a for­mal go-ahead for min­ing oper­a­tions in the olive oil-mak­ing regions.

The Hurriyet Daily News reported on the con­tro­versy at the time. They stated that accord­ing to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, olive orchards found in the loca­tion of the new mines would be moved to other areas at no cost to grow­ers.

The plan pro­vided resources for replant­ing the groves in loca­tions of equal size and asked the min­ing com­pa­nies to plant five new saplings for each olive tree moved. It also reg­u­lated the rein­state­ment of the olive groves once min­ing oper­a­tions were con­cluded.

The plan was blocked by the 8th Chamber of the Council of State, which argued that it was poten­tially against the pub­lic inter­est.

Turkey is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries in the world. In the cur­rent sea­son, local olive oil pro­duc­ers expect a record-break­ing yield of an esti­mated 400 thou­sand tons, well above the 228,000 tons reported in the 2021/2022 sea­son.

Table olive pro­duc­tion is also set to reach a new record high and exceed 700,000 tons.

As reported by EuroCoal, coal rep­re­sents Turkey’s major energy source, cov­er­ing slightly less than 30 per­cent of the country’s energy sup­ply. Fossil gas and oil together account for about 56 per­cent of the energy sup­ply.


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