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New regional govts support nukes, breaking mining limits

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The ČSSD victory in the regional elections is also a victory for energy companies. Future regional governors are clearly saying they want to see the nuclear power plant Temelín complete and coal mining limits in the Ústí nad Labem region lifted.

“We are prepared to work on revoking the decision to halt further construction in the Temelín nuclear power plant complex as soon as possible,” Jiří Zimola, future regional governor of South Bohemia. He is certain that his proposal will succeed, saying everyone except for the Greens agrees with completion.

A decision made four years ago by South Bohemian representatives prevents building a third and a fourth block in Temelín. But canceling this decision does not automatically mean that ČEZ power company will be able to launch construction. The Greens, who succeeded in pushing though a ban on building nuclear resources, oppose these planned projects.

Even so, it is a significant step forward because up until now regional representatives insisted that any agreement on lifting the ban would be considered only if the government promises more funding. “We have decided that we will support the expansion of Temelín,” said Zimola.

Jiří Běhounek, future regional governor of the Vysočina region, where ČEZ plans to expand its Dukovany plant, supports nuclear energy too.

ČSSD leader in the Ústí nad Labem region, Jaroslav Foldyna, is also on the side of the energy companies. He is prepared to give coal mining companies permission to extend mining limits. “In my report, I want one priority and that will be the consent of the municipalities affected by this,” he said, adding that if mining companies agree on sufficient compensation with local residents, there is no reason not to change the limits. The regional ODS association, however, had promised the municipalities that the existing mining limits would be maintained at any cost and that they would strive to put off all coal supplies as soon as possible.

Vysočina region doesn’t want windmills

And while future ČSSD regional governors support nuclear energy, they are reserved about renewable energy sources. “I am not against renewable energy, but if someone says it will replace nuclear energy, he is not telling the truth,” said Jiří Běhounek, future regional governor for the Vysočina region.

He does not plan to support wind energy or photovoltaic power plants. “I have never received so many emails from locals as those involving wind farms. People do not want them,” he said. The regional office, he said, would wait until a map of sustainability commissioned by current Regional Governor Miloš Vystrčil (ODS) is ready.

Vysočina’s opposition in the last few months halted practically all wind energy projects. Following the example of Jihlava representatives, regions stalled permission procedures and worked to create new rules on solar and wind farms so that all surrounding municipalities, not only those affected directly, could have a say.

The ČSSD future regional governor has a similar view on photovoltaic power plants. He is willing to supports projects in enclosed complexes or on the roofs of buildings, but he is against solar parks in the open countryside.

Běhounek also supports the expansion of the Dukovany nuclear plant, planned by ČEZ. “People have gotten used to the idea of nuclear energy, and that’s why during our internal meeting we supported the planned expansion of the Dukovany nuclear plant,” said the future regional governor.

Zimola, the aspiring South Bohemian regional governor, is in favour of expanding storage for Temelín’s nuclear waste but opposes establishing new under-ground storage locations in the region.

“We are pleased that the regional governor candidates have this stance,” said ČEZ spokesman Ladislav Kříž. He said the company is now preparing plans to expand both power plants, but that does not necessarily mean that both will be realised. “In the end, it will be a political decision,” he said.

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