With the nomination of Tomáš Chalupa (Civic Democrats, ODS), once again the principle that the Environment Minister should be at least marginally sensitive to environmental issues has been discarded. And while he may not be as inclined to favor industry over environment as his predecessor, Chalupa is a blank slate in terms of environmental experience.
An environment ministry review commission has concluded that the ministry’s executive committee for the Hradec Kralové region made legal and procedural errors when it issued a provisional license for the exploration of shale gas in northeast Bohemia to BasGas Energia Czech. On the basis of these findings and following a meeting with local mayors, Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa decided to cancel the exploration license.
Public Affairs (VV) reckons it has been shortchanged of ministerial posts since two of its ministers were forced out of the Cabinet following recent scandals. It is now seeking to make up the deficit and allegedly has the Environment Ministry in its sights. The likely VV candidate for the post is the mayor of the northern town of in Litvínov, Milan Šťovíček, for whom it seems no one has a bad word.
The Czech Environment Ministry convened a round table meeting Wednesday night to try to find common ground between environmental groups, local councils and authorities, and officials at Šumava National Park over its future management. The meeting follows clashes over logging in the summer. Environmental groups are skeptical a ministry blueprint for park development will deliver enough protection.
When the Finance Minister categorically ruled out PPF from bidding in the multi-billion crown nationwide “eco-tender,” for the most part the decision was not welcomed in the ranks of the Civic Democrat Party (ODS) – the senior member of the governing coalition. Could the new Environment Minister, Tomáš Chalupa (ODS), who has ties to PPF, help the group become a contender?
A new scandal has arisen in the ODS-led government. This time, details of secret recordings published by daily Mladá fronta Dnes implicate the Ministry of the Environment. A financial adviser to Minister Pavel Drobil allegedly put pressure on the director of the State Environmental Fund (SFŽP) to manipulate a government tender.
Libor Michálek, the top Ministry of Environment official who blew the whistle on corruption and was sacked as a result, has been offered a post in the government's newly-created anti-corruption unit.
A Czech Position poll of top managers shows that more than half think that PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) mishandled the “Drobil affair.” Even many polled who are slightly more forgiving of his actions in the wake of the alleged corruption scandal think Nečas should have acted much faster. Respondents are divided over whether it will be swept under the carpet or cause irreparable damage to the ODS.
Prague’s new Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who has vowed to stamp out corruption in the city’s administration, has rejected claims that a tender for the renovation of Prague’s waste water treatment plant has been rigged in favor of a specific company. Nevertheless, the conditions of the tender appear to at least favor larger companies.
While a plurality of people asked by Czech position approved the choice of Tomáš Chalupa (Civic Democrats, ODS) as minister of the environment, an equal number were not sure how to answer. The minority who opposed the choice, however, seemed to feel the most strongly, saying Chalupa lacks the proper background to do the job and is saddled with conflicts of interest.
Ukrainian media report an Israeli firm that won a tender to dispose of highly toxic waste from a Soviet-era plant outside Kiev got permission from ‘Czech authorities’ to transport the unprecedentedly large consignment for disposal here — but the Czech Enivronment Ministry knows nothing about it. Czech Position has learnt that a UK firm is also involved in the possibly illegal transfer of waste containing beryllium.
Within days the EU Commission is to send a letter to Prague explaining why it is suspending funding for two operational projects in the Czech Republic in the areas of environment and regional development. Funding for business development and innovation, transport, and education is also in the balance.
Czech Police have charged Martin Knetig, a former advisor to ex-Environment Minister Pavel Drobil, for “indirect bribery” for allegedly seeking kickbacks for a secret Civic Democrats (ODS) slush fund and to his old boss. Police documents purport to show that in October 2010 Knetig tried to get a member of Komerční banka’s board of directors to sponsor the ODS in exchange for depositing Kč 20 bln of state funds.
The resignation of the environment minister has unmasked an array of suspicious dealings related to the eco-tender. It’s also increasingly clear Prime Minister Petr Nečas won’t stand up to its proponents — especially the eco-tender “father,” Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek — or muster up the courage to honor his pledge to resign should he fail to quash it.
PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrat, ODS) made a critical mistake by not immediately firing Environment Minister Pavel Drobil after evidence surfaced that the now ex-minister had tried to cover up a trail of corruption. By waiting for his fellow ODS party member to resign, Nečas has undermined his assumed role of champion against corruption.
Hundreds gathered on the main square of the northwest Bohemian town of Náchod on Tuesday morning to protest the planned exploration (and eventual extraction) of shale gas deposits in the region. Although the Czech Ministry of Environment has already issued a survey license to an Australian-owned company, a host of local municipalities have appealed the decision. Opponents say shale gas exploration poses a threat to water tables.
The controversial plan to dig a navigation canal at the Slavík Islands stretch of the Labe river — without much consideration for environmental or even market principles — is back at square one. This is despite the support the project has received from the Territorial Department of the Ministry of the Environment in Hradec Králové. “Only a state investor is capable of wastefully spending such a huge amount of money,” said Miroslav Patrik of Dětí Země, which has filed a lawsuit over the project.
Three of the Czech Republic’s richest companies are lined up to get hundreds of millions of crowns in support to cut atmospheric pollution. Meanwhile, minimal amounts of direct aid has been offered to households in the smog-struck east of the country to buy less noxious coal-fired stoves and boilers. It was a coincidence that details of the take up of the programs came through at the same time.
Ondřej Kundrát, a 19-year-old Czech student, has discovered a new method of distilling pharmaceutical alcohol that does not require using heavy metals. Kundrát says that while there’s no real difference in the alcohol produced using his method and existing methods, his leaves almost no environmental footprint. The chemist has won awards for discoveries in the fields of anti-malarial drugs and pesticides.
The former State Environment Fund (SFŽP) head Libor Michálek had told police of a suspicious tender involving bidders KPMG and Mott MacDonald before the corruption scandal at the Environment Ministry came to light last week.