WATCH: German police break up anti-coal protest

The fate of a tiny village has sparked heated debate in Germany over the country's continued use of coal and whether tackling climate change justifies breaking the law.

Environmental activists have been locked in a standoff with police who started eviction operations on Wednesday in the hamlet of Luetzerath, west of Cologne, that's due to be bulldozed for the expansion of a nearby lignite mine.

Some stones and fireworks were thrown at officers in riot gear as they moved into the village, clearing roadblocks and removing protesters.

Activists had refused to heed a court ruling Monday effectively banning them from the area.