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EU regulators take Germany to court of justice over Hamburg coal plant

EU regulators take Germany to court of justice over Hamburg coal plant

BERLIN: EU regulators have referred Germany to the EU Court of Justice over a failure to look into alternative cooling processes at a coal-fired plant in Hamburg, operated by Vattenfall [VATN.UL], in order to protect wildlife, the European Commission said.

The first of two blocks at the Moorburg power station on the river Elbe started up commercial power production earlier this month, marking the end of seven years of political controversy over the project.

Moorburg risked having a negative impact on a number of protected fish species passing near the power plant when migrating from the North Sea which is 100 kilometres away from the port of Hamburg to spawning grounds in the Czech Republic some 800 km further upstream, the Commission said.

The species are harmed by the water abstraction process used to cool the power plant,” the EU executive noted in a statement, adding when authorizing the plant, Germany failed to carry out assessments required by the Habitats Directive, a nature legislation adopted in 1992.

A spokesman for the environment agency of the Hamburg state government said the Commission had signaled its intention last autumn.