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Turkey greenlights scores of mining and renewable energy ventures amid environmental controversy

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Turkey’s Environment Ministry has given the go-ahead to 372 mining projects since January 2024, alongside approvals for 378 solar power plants and wind farms, with many slated for construction in environmentally sensitive forest and agricultural zones. According to data from the Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Ministry, these approvals have sparked concerns about irregularities and circumvention of environmental impact assessments (ÇED), as reported by the daily Cumhuriyet.

Several projects have raised eyebrows due to their expansion plans in critical green areas, such as the Northern Forests in Istanbul, and bordering regions along the Aegean Sea. The approvals have predominantly favored business entities with close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as well as companies known for questionable environmental practices.

For instance, Bahar Mining Company received permission to expand its quarry operations in the Northern Forests, extending into a first-degree natural protected zone. Similarly, the government greenlit mining activities to supply coal to the Yatağan Thermal Power Plant in Muğla, owned by Aydem Holding, despite official closure directives.

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In addition to mining projects, the government has sanctioned numerous solar and wind power plant installations. While these projects promote clean energy, concerns arise over their siting in unsuitable locations due to misguided policies. Some approved ventures are associated with companies allegedly linked to the government, including Eti Bakır, a subsidiary of Cengiz Holding, and YEO company, set to deploy solar panels in Ağrı and Ankara, respectively. Another example is Kıroba company, slated to construct wind turbines in forested areas of Aydın province.

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