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“As long as the recultivation is still going on, we cannot sell the forest. After that you can talk about anything,” said the outgoing RWE boss Rolf Martin Schmitz of the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday). The 200 hectares of forest in the Rhenish lignite district are worth “about a single-digit million amount”.
NRW Economics Minister Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) had brought up the conversion of the forest into a state forest. The forest area, which was originally to be filled in for lignite mining, had become a nationwide symbol of resistance against lignite. After violent protests, RWE had promised that it would be received, which is now also legally stipulated. However, activists still live in tree houses in the forest.
If the coal phase-out in Germany does not come by the agreed latest date in 2038, but in 2035, RWE will still “meet all its obligations,” emphasized Schmitz. “Even if coal was phased out in 2035, it would remain that way: no employee falls into the mountain free.” The company currently employs 20,000 people, almost 9,000 of them in lignite. As early as 2023, coal and nuclear power will contribute significantly less to the RWE result, said Schmitz.
In the CDU chancellor candidate question, the energy manager expressed sympathy for NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet: “I really appreciate Armin Laschet. He can listen, is indecent and stands by his decisions – even if it hurt us, as in the Hambach Forest”, said Schmitz in the interview.
ESSEN / DSSELDORF (dpa-AFX)
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Image sources: RWE