Activists occupy German coal plant site Datteln 4 in green protest

FRANKFURT, Feb 2 (Reuters) - More than 100 environmentalist activists occupied the site of the yet-to-be commissioned Datteln 4 coal fired power plant in western Germany on Sunday to protest against carbon emissions from coal burning, police reported.

Protestors wore orange overalls and face masks and held up banners saying "Exit Coal Now" and "Your 20-Year Profits instead of Our Future".

The gate to the site was broken early in the morning and trespassers were blocking conveyor belts that will transport coal to the boilers in future, said Ramona Hoerst, a spokeswoman for the Recklinghausen police.

She said police were monitoring the situation for now.

"We cannot allow, in light of the climate crisis, for another coal power station to join the power grid," said Kathrin Henneberger of the protest movement Ende Gelaende, calling Datteln "a nail in the coffin for our future".

Datteln 4, a modern hard coal plant that has cost operator utility Uniper 1.5 billion euros, was exempted from a national plan to exit from coal power by 2038 that was approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet last month.

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Uniper argued successfully that it would make more sense to shut additional old coal capacity with high CO2 emissions to clear the way for its state-of-the art Datteln facility to operate into the 2030s, even if that would be well below a usual 40-year life span.

Environmentalists have criticised the compromise, saying the government lacked ambition and allowed coal operators, which also include RWE, to get off lightly.

Environmentalist protests in Germany have previously halted and delayed major companies' plans such RWE's lignite mining at the Hambach forest, near Cologne, which has become a symbol of the anti-coal protests. (Reporting by Vera Eckert and Christian Kraemer Editing by Frances Kerry)

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