BERLIN — Members of a government-appointed panel of experts on the future of Germany's coal industry are protesting plans to chop down parts of an ancient forest for mining.
Panel members from three environmental groups, an organization promoting renewable energy and a residents' association visited the Hambach forest Monday, where anti-coal activists have clashed with police in recent days.
Utility company RWE plans to start clearing parts of the forest in October to expand its nearby lignite strip mine.
Hubert Weiger, chairman of the green group BUND, accused RWE of endangering the work of the coal commission.
The government wants the panel, which also includes representatives from business, unions, politics and academic, to recommend how Germany can best phase out coal.
Some 21,000 people still work in Germany's coal industry.