Activists try to block access to doomed German village

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Climate activists sit in so-called tripos on a trunk at village Luetzerath near Erkelenz, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. The village of Luetzerath has to be demolished to expand the Garzweiler lignite coal mine near the dutch border. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

LUETZERATH, Germany (AP) — Several hundred climate activists on Tuesday were trying to block the entry of heavy machinery into an abandoned village in Germany which is due to be cleared for the expansion of a coal mine after a German court rejected a last-ditch attempt by the activists to stay there.

The disputed evacuation of the hamlet of Luetzerath, west of Cologne has become a battleground between the government and environmentalists.

The regional administrative court in Muenster late Monday confirmed a lower court decision forbidding the activists from remaining in the village.

The court dismissed the activists’ argument that civil disobedience at the site was justified due to the climate crisis.

Utility company RWE wants to extract the coal beneath Luetzerath, arguing that this is necessary to ensure energy security in Germany.

Police have said no clearance will take place until after a town hall event later Tuesday.

Nearby, a group of about 100 protesters were locked in a standoff with police. Officers briefly used pepper spray to push back the line of activists, who chanted “We are peaceful, what are you?”

Some activists were perched on tripods in an attempt to block a key road into the village. Police carried about a dozen activists away who had dug themselves into a trench.

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