Logs, wood waste and planks cut into a given size can be found on the property of the factory, even though the Austrian investor hasn’t even required the issuance of the environmental protection permit. The testing of the equipment is being carried out, Schweighofer said.

Despite the fact that Holzindustrie Schweighofer does not have the environmental protection permit it has already started to operate its sawmill built in the vicinity of the village Reci, in the county of Covasna.

The huge quantity of pines that are piled up in the courtyard can be clearly seen on the pictures taken of the factory’s premises. Huge dunes of sawdust and pine boards cut to a size all prove that the factory is operating already.

The testing of the equipment is being carried out, Schweighofer said to our inquiries. According to the press officer, they already sent the documents needed to start the production activity. The documentation is being verified by the authorities.

The original post in Hungarian:

Engedélyek nélkül üzemeli be a Schweighofer a rétyi fenyővágóhidat

BankWatch Romania (Bucharest) and the Foundation NeuerWeg (Fagarasi) handed in a FOI request to the Environmental Protection Agency of Covasna County on the 3rd of April, 2015 in order to seek clarification on the operation permit of the sawmill.

In the reply received on the 9th of April, 2015 it is clearly stated that Holzindustrie Schweighofer has not requested the environmental protection permit which is necessary for its operation. This means that the factory is operating illegally.

Despite this situation, the pictures taken on the 4th of March, April the 29th and the 30th show that the factory has started its activities. On the pictures taken in March only the piles of logs are visible.

The pictures taken on the 29th and 30th of April prove that the factory has started its activities: pieces of wood stripped of barks, dunes of sawmill and boards cut into shape lay on the property, ready to be transported.

The thermal power plant built on the premises is a separate project and is currently is undergoing the process of issuing a permit for its operation. The power plant is operated by S.C. Bioelectrica Transilvania S.R.L. (Radauti, county of Suceava), a company in the area of influence of Holzindustrie Schweighofer. The power plant permit issuance process has already started, the public hearing at Reci will take place on the 18th of May, 2015.

This is the second case when the Austrian investor wants to speed up the process of acquiring the permit by starting its activities illegally. In June, 2013, under the name of archaeological evaluation (to which it had a permit), Holzindustrie Schweighofer started construction work on the property of the sawmill: with excavators and graders, they cleared of topsoil the half of the total area of the sawmill (70 ha) then had it removed from its property.

With these actions the Austrian investor broke the law referring to archaeological works and to the licensing of construction projects.

On the 8th of August, 2013 giving in to the pressure coming from civil society the Directorate of Construction of the County of Covasna carried out a control on the premises of the factory. They managed to stop a part of the activities that were taking place there, and issued fines to the contractor.

Against this background, on the 24th of December, 2013, the City Council of Covasna County issued the construction permit.

BankWatch Romania and the Neuer Weg Foundation together with civil society support want to prevent the sawmill from operating by taking the case to the courts. On the 29th of April, 2015, Nostra Silva, the Romanian federation of forest owners and local pasture joined their cause.

The sawmill planned at Reci would process 800,000 cubic meter of pine wood every year, with the employment of 650 people. Despite heavy protests coming from environmental protection activists the sawmill has been issued the permits necessary for its construction.

The factory at Reci would be the fifth establishment of Holzindustrie Schweighofer. The Austrian company has sawmills in Comănești (Kománfalva), Sebeș (Szászsebes), Rădăuți (Radóc) and Siret (Szeretvásár).

Toró Attila, translation: Etelka Tamás-Blaha

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