The Social and Cultural Cost of Coal

In the last 35 years, eight villages were forced to displace –some more than once- when coal mines became operational.

The disentitlement of their traditional ways of economic production and employment opportunities force local commuties either to work in the coal sector or to get displaced -leaving their homeland behind. Due to demographic changes as a result, communities bear heavy societal and cultural burdens, paid with their livelihoods.


In the last 35 years, eight villages were forced to relocate –some more than once- when coal mines became operational. If the planned capacity increase, life extension of power plants, as well as coal mine expansions in the licensed areas, are realized, 48 other villages will be forced to entirely relocate or to leave their homes due to expropriation of olive groves and agricultural and forest areas. This will lead to the direct or indirect displacement of 8.300 people in Milas, and 20,400 people in Yatağan and Menteşe, totaling to approximately 30,000 people forced to leave their homes.


Farmers from around Yatağan coal-fired power plant have filed suits on the grounds that the pollution from the power plant led to considerable decreases in yield therefore causing financial loss. In many lawsuits particularly those regarding citrus, olive and tobacco production, plaintiffs were awarded compensations. Court decisions determined that the gas emitted by the coal-fired power plant harmed agriculture, damaged plants that had not completed the leaf development stage and decreased yield. Current studies demonstrate the level and magnitude of the impacts of the dust particles emitted by the three coal-fired power plants and open-pit coal mines on beekeeping and olive cultivation, whereas the province of Muğla is Turkey’s leading honeydew honey, citrus and olive producer. Eliminating coal’s impacts on these main products will enhance their value added to the regional and national economy.

  • There are many registered archaeological sites within the boundaries of areas that were awarded lignite extraction permits. The archaeological sites that are the most affected by coal extraction fields are the ones located between Stratonikeia and Lagina, two cultural heritage sites with ongoing archaeological surveys. The ancient city of Stratonikeia is also a Unesco World Heritage candidate;


  • If the licensed coal extraction fields that are located within the existing archaeological site area become operational, it will prevent the adoption of a holistic conservation approach for natural and cultural assets and will disrupt the relationship between archaeological sites and their natural environment;


  • Polluting emissions from the chimneys of these three coal-fired power plants have negative impacts not only on human health, but on cultural assets as well;


  • The air pollution dispersion model study for The Real Costs of Coal, covers the archeological sites that can be adversely impacted by pollution within the limits of the province of Muğla. According to the model, the impact area of the Yatağan, Yeniköy and Kemerköy coal-fired power plants encompasses 880 archaeological sites, including first and third degree archaeological sites with ongoing research.

According to the Archaeology Foundation’s analysis for The Real Costs of Coal on the mine licensing areas and pollution dispersion maps:

Archaeological heritage is also threatened by Muğla’s coal-fired power plants and coal mine expansions. The Yatağan, Yeniköy and Kemerköy triangle is part of the area referred to as Caria in Antiquity. Carians were followed by Seldjoukides, Byzantines and Ottomans before the area became part of the Turkish Republic.

© 2018 Climate Action Network Europe