Pilsen Region postpones commissioning of impact study of gigafactory, awaits VW's verdict
Plzeň Region councillors, who were to approve the public procurement of an impact study for the planned Volkwagen (VW) factory at the airport in Líně near Plzeň, have postponed the move. According to the governor Rudolf Špoták (Pirates), they did not receive the input parameters for the planned production of batteries for electric cars, the so-called gigafactory, from the Ministry of Industry (MIT) and the CzechInvest agency. Thus, the possible impacts on transport, the environment, housing, schools and the social system cannot yet be worked out. The impact study, worth several million crowns and paid for by the MIT, will be commissioned by the region only if VW decides to build the factory in Líně, the governor said.
He said the region has an idea of what it expects from the study, but lacks precise data from the MIT and CzechInvest on what the production should look like, what the water and energy sources and transport lines will be. The county assumes that the state is waiting for VW's decision on whether to choose Lina. That should come by the end of the year. "I understand that the MIT will not invest in the study if there is no strategic industrial zone (for the gigafactory) in the country," he said.
The government sees VW's investment of up to CZK 120 billion as crucial for the transformation of the Czech car industry, which accounts for a tenth of GDP and a quarter of exports, to electromobility. Up to 4,000 people would find work on 200 hectares of land by 2027. Communities in the region are concerned about the project.
"If VW says 'yes' to Lini, the region will commission a study. The same applies to the necessary amendment to the spatial development principles (of the region's grand master plan). We will only submit the amendment if VW and subsequently the government say through legislative action that they will build the industrial estate," the governor said.
In this case, the region would still commission a search study to build a replacement airport for the dozens of flight schools and clubs, 70 machines and about 500 pilots who work at the reserve army airport in Líně, according to deputy governor Josef Bernard (STAN). "It would be a more modern airport. Nowadays, they are not even allowed to fly there at night," he said. According to the regional leadership, the replacement airport would have to be built within a reasonable driving distance of 30 to 50 kilometres from Líní. Perhaps that location will improve for them, Bernard added.
If VW decides on Líně, Bernard said, the study will not be a major piece of material. The county and surrounding communities will still have plenty of opportunity to influence the investment through various permitting processes. "There's still the EIA, maybe the SEA. The state may be part owner, but the municipalities have their finger on the trigger. If there is no agreement with the municipalities, the project will not happen," he said. He said the country has robust enough laws and systems "to do everything lege artis". "So that somebody doesn't take advantage of the fact that a dominant producer is coming in like this," the deputy governor said.
According to Bernard, everyone is debating what a shame it would be if the Linn airport is demolished. "But I've never seen it written how shamefully the military has treated it all along. No investment has gone in, they have not been able to consolidate the land, either on the main runway or the alternate runway, in all that time. They've propped it up for 90 years, 20 years have passed and it's become a lawsuit," he added. He said the nearly 400-hectare area has been devastated in 30 years.