Several hundred police officers were deployed to Germany’s Hambach Forest on Tuesday, one of the main focal points of climate protests in the country.
A police spokesman however said that the officers were not sent to clear makeshift tree houses there, where activists have set up camp, but rather to clear barricades that have been blocking access points.
“The occupants of the forest have erected structures with platforms measuring up to 15 metres tall using tree trunks.
“These block forest tracks which must be kept free for emergency service vehicles,” the spokesman said.
Hambach Forest, located in the western German state of North Rhine Westphalia, became the epicentre of a struggle between climate activists and the coal industry in 2018, when police cleared the sit-in and destroyed scores of tree houses.
However, it has faded out of headlines recently.
The German government agreed earlier this year to phase out coal in the country by 2038, and part of that plan included guarantees that Hambach Forest would not be cleared to make way for a mine, as had originally been planned.
The number of activists now living at the site varies, according to police, who put the figure at about 100 people.
The construction of tree houses continues there, ranging from simple structures to multilevel dwellings complete with windows, roofing and solar panels.
Report says protest group Ende Gelaende, which is not actively involved in the live-in protest however organises anti-coal demonstrations across Germany, condemned the police operation.
Its spokeswoman Ronja Weil called it “harassment’’ and expressed solidarity with the protesters.
She, however, claimed that the barricades were not dangerous. (dpa/NAN)