Czechs yield to neighbours on Temelin EIA

Environmental impact assessment to include citizen participation; multilateral government consultation

The Czech Republic has agreed that its Temelin nuclear power plant will undergo a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) in line with EU requirements before fully coming on stream. Pressure for the change was exerted by the European Commission after vigorous allegations by neighbours Austria and Germany that the plant did not match western standards. The first of the power station's two 981 megawatt reactors has been running at test levels since 10 October.

Agreement over the EIA was struck last night at a summit between Czech premier Milos Zeman and Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. In separate meetings yesterday, Austrian and Czech ministers negotiated with Günther Verheugen, the EU enlargement commissioner. German junior environment minister Simone Probst discussed the issue with her Czech opposite number in Prague on Monday.

According to an Austrian environment ministry official, the Czech authorities are "voluntarily extending" an ongoing EIA to broaden its scope and enable participation by outside experts. He told ENDS Daily that the revised procedures would be substantially in line with the EU environmental impact directive and would also comply with rules in the UN Espoo convention on EIA in a transboundary context (ENDS Daily 17 September 1997). This involves participation by citizens potentially affected, including in neighbouring countries, as well as multilateral consultation at government level.

Follow Up:
Austrian environment ministry, tel: +43 1 515 220; Czech environment ministry, tel: +420 2 67 12 11 11.

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