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LMP proposes calling local referendum on planned battery plant

Opposition LMP is initiating that the local mayor call a referendum to ask residents in Alsozsolca, in northern Hungary, about the planned battery recycling plant by a Slovene investor, Erzsebet Schmuck, the party's co-leader, said on Sunday.

The Hungarian foreign minister announced last week that Slovenia’s Andrada Group would build a battery recycling plant using “the world’s latest technology” in the town. He said that new plant would ensure that “electric batteries will be produced in Hungary without any impact on the environment … with the recycling of batteries also ensured.”

Schmuck told an online press conference that in Hungary “none of the localities can feel safe because of the government’s forging ahead with its large-scale plan of becoming a leading power in battery production”. She criticised the government for having neglected the opinion of local residents which she said should have been asked under an international treaty on the right of citizens to learn in advance about projects affecting their life and environment.

Peter Revesz, the party’s local councillor, told the same press conference that the licensing process of battery plants was non-transparent with “the interests of investors overriding environmental protection requirements”.

Karoly Tibor Angyal, secretary of the party’s national board, insisted that the battery plant investments were a “campaign of bluff” on the part of ruling Fidesz. He said such plants were being set up in places that were already dealing with labour shortages. “New positions [at these plants] are getting filled with foreign guest workers for much lower wages which will ultimately push Hungarian wages down,” he said.

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