It was ten in the evening on 17 December when my colleague and I arrived in Pljevlja, Montenegro. Although we could feel the smell of burnt coal already while driving there, the minute we set foot out of the car, the air was stifling. “This place reminds me of childhood, it smells like in your grandparents’ house when the chimney was stuffed and all the smoke came inside. Only this is outside", he said, with a scarf pulled over his nose.
Pljevlja's 210 MW lignite power plant, operating since 1982 in northern Montenegro, has caused controversy since the beginning of its lifetime. Even back in late '70s Yugoslavia when the project was being planned, residents succeeded in pressing for the chimney to be taller than planned (250 metres instead of 200 metres) in an attempt to ensure that the plant's pollution rose above the hills surrounding Pljevlja and dispersed further away.