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    Bulgarian protesters block roads, angry at plans to shut power plants

    September 29, 2023 - dpa English


      Sofia (dpa) - Bulgarian miners and power station employees staged a protest on Friday against plans to shut down coal-fired power plants as part of a transition to more environmentally-friendly energy sources.

      The protesters blocked key motorways in opposition to the pro-Western government's plans for Bulgaria's three coal-producing regions, industry representatives said.

      The demonstrators are calling for a "fair energy transition" for the south and south-west regions.

      The protesters blocked the E-79 road in south-western Bulgaria that leads through to Greece, and the Trakia motorway leading to the Black Sea and Istanbul.

      That led to traffic jams stretching over a kilometre in length, according to local reports.

      The protest also blocked the Pass of the Republic route in the Balkan Mountains, also preventing travel to Greece and Turkey.

      One demonstrator declared a hunger strike.

      Bulgaria aims to close its coal-fired power plants and mines by 2038. The demonstrators agree on the date, but not on the way the transition to cleaner energy is to be implemented.

      Despite the protests, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov's government is set to approve plans to close the three coal areas on Friday, to avoid losing funding for the transition to clean energy worth 4.4 billion levs ($2.3 billion) from the EU reconstruction plan.

      Bulgaria's plans must be submitted by Friday, Denkov said.

      Representatives of miners and coal-fired power plant workers are calling for a month's delay to allow them to participate in the energy transition planning process.

      Currently, about half of Bulgaria's electricity is generated by coal, and a further third comes from nuclear power.

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