German police arrest Hambach Forest activists

German police arrest Hambach Forest activists

Dozens of activists have been arrested by police as authorities continue clearing out an ancient forest. An energy company says it needs to demolish the forest to mine coal and meet energy needs in western Germany.

German police on Saturday arrested 30 environmentalists protesting in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

An Aachen police spokesperson said dozens of people were ordered to leave the area as entered its fourth day on Sunday.

Firefighters had to pump fresh air into a tunnel where at least five activists had attempted to defy authorities by hiding out in a makeshift tunnel that firefighters said was 5 meters (16.4 feet) beneath the ground.

‘Jeopardizes supplies‘

The area of Hambach Forest is owned by German energy company RWE. The company wants to clear the forest to mine brown coal, which .

The occupation of Hambach Forest “jeopardizes supplies to nearby power plants and refining plants,” RWE said in a statement. “Around 15 percent of North Rhine-Westphalia‘s electricity requirements are covered by coal supplies from the Hambach opencast mine.”

The police operation has been described by some as heavy handed

Continued resistance

But environmentalists have argued that and winding down consumption of coal.

Those who had occupied parts of the forest have noted that and host a protected species of bats. The forest is said to be 12,000 years old.

Despite several attempts to , police are expected to continue clearing out activists from the forest on Sunday.

ls/sms (dpa, AP)