Erdoğan vetoes bill postponing filters for thermal power plants

(updates with reactions from AKP officials)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vetoed a bill postponing the installation of filters to over a dozen thermal power plants until 2022, Medyascope TV reported on Monday.

Erdoğan, in a first since becoming president in 2014, vetoed the bill that postpones for two-and-a-half years the requirement for using chimney filters and chimney gas purification systems in 15 thermal power plants, Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesperson Ömer Çelik announced on Monday.

The bill, supported by the AKP and its ally far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), passed in parliament on Nov. 21, sparking reactions from environmental groups, including WWF Turkey and Greenpeace Mediterranean.

Greenpeace in early Nov. had called for the closure of thermal power plants sharing measurements that showed air pollution around thermal power plants in the western province of Kütahya were three times higher than the limits set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A number of AKP officials thanked Erdoğan on Twitter for vetoing the bill, which they they passed in parliament last month.

"Our president placed health first,’’ AKP's Deputy Chair Mahir Ünal said, extending his gratitude to the Turkish president.

AKP Deputy Mehmet Cihat Sezal also thanked Erdoğan on behalf of the people of his native province of Kahramanmaraş, home to the Afşin-Elbistan power stations.

Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, after the bill was passed, announced that coal-fired power plants in the country would face penalties if they do not comply with legislation to use chimney filters and chimney gas purification systems within six months.