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Planet Ark World Environment News Nemak mulls dropping Czech parts plant due protests

Date: 12-Feb-01
Country: CZECH REPUBLIC

"Environmentalists have run a media campaign, and I'm afraid that Nemak is worried these initiatives are capable of postponing the project to the point where it would affect its own committments," said Plzen deputy mayor Jiri Bis.

According to Pavel Kucera of the public relations firm Eklektik, which represents Nemak in the Czech Republic, Nemak is still interested in the Plzen location, but wants the city's residents to be sure they wants the firm.

"We're postponing, not halting the process because we still believe that our primary selection which was Borske Pole in Plzen is do-able, but we need to see proof of a broad consensus," Kucera said.

According to Kucera, environmentalists are the project to build a plant for aluminium heads for car engines, but they say that the location violates local zoning regulations.

"Everyone says it's a very good project, but they have an issue with the zoning," he said. "They're not of the opinion that the zoning would allow the plant, and even if it did they're not of the opinion that the zoning, as it is, is good for Plzen."

The city of Plzen approved the plant, which would represent one of the country's largest foreign investments to date, in October 2000, after an environmental impact asessment study.

But opponents say the study, done by an independent contractor who was assigned by the Environment Ministry and paid for by Nemak in accordance with Czech law, is biased.

Plzen local Ivan Cipera who has helped gather over 9,000 signatures against the project says that the plant would make the already poor environmental conditions in Plzen even worse and that it has no place in a light industry zone.

"The project is in contradiction to the zoning plan which calls for light manufacturing in this location, such as bakeries or auto repair," he said.

According to Kucera, Nemak has done everything it could to accomodate the environmentalists, including altering the original building plans for the plant. Now it is considering other locations in and outside of the Czech Republic, he added.

The Czech Environment Ministry so far has not expressed an opinion on the project.

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