The activists also climbed diggers and transport belts. For safety reasons, Vattenfall had stopped the operation of the Welzow-Süd opencast mine already in advance. The production of power plant Schwarze Pumpe was reduced in order to be able to secure continued heat supply to the villages Spremberg and Hoyerswerda.
Saturday afternoon the occupation escalated with a group of 300 people breaking the entrance gate of the Schwarze Pumpe power plant and making their way onto the power plant site. The police were forced to intervene and arrested some 120 activists. Mining equipment was also destroyed. Vattenfall has filed complaints.
”I want to thank our employees for their considerate behaviour in these difficult circumstances. Thanks to this, further escalation could be avoided. The safety of employees, activists and operations remains our main concern”, says Head of Vattenfall Europe Mining and Vattenfall Europe Generation Dr. Hartmuth Zeiss.
Following escalations of the blockade, the local Mayor adjusted the permission that was given for the climate camp. It expired on Sunday and activists will have to leave the area. Should the instructions of the Mayor not be followed, the police can take action.
In mid-April, Vattenfall signed an agreement to sell the lignite operations to the Czech EPH/PPF as a step on the company’s strategy to convert to renewables and other low-carbon production. The deal is to be confirmed by Vattenfall's owner, the Swedish state. Almost 8,000 people are employed in the lignite operations.