European Parliament criticizes Albanian government for hydropower projects at the Vjosa and in protected areas

The Vjosa river. The EU calls for its protection, but the Albanian government wants to have hydropower plants constructed. © Christian Baumgartner / Nationalpark Donau-Auen

Joint press release by EuroNatur, Riverwatch and EcoAlbania, 15 April 2016

 

Tirana, Vienna, Radolfzell. Today, the European Parliament criticized the Albanian government for the planning of hydropower projects and called upon them to be more considerate of protected areas and other sensitive nature areas, especially national parks. In the current Enlargement Report that was adopted by the parliament in Brussel yesterday, the Vjosa river is specifically mentioned. The European Parliament „Calls on the Albanian government to control the development of hydropower plants in environmentally sensitive areas such as around Vjosa River as well as in protected areas and to maintain the integrity of existing national parks.” (Nr 23 in the EU Enlargement Report)

The European Parliament has already prompted the Albanian government to overthink their hydropower plans on the Vjosa and its tributaries in the last year’s EU report. However, in contrast to this request, the government under Prime Minster Edi Rama has just recently invited tenders for a big hydropower pant on the Vjosa. Construction companies from all over the world were encouraged to apply for concession until March 17, 2016. It is not yet disclosed who struck the deal. There is some indication that it will be a Turkish company. “The call for tender for another hydropower plant on the Vjosa comes as a surprise to us, since Prime Minster Rama had previously also suggested the protection of this unique river. Furthermore, no assessment of the massive impact this project would have on nature has been carried out according to internationally recognized standards”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of nature conservation foundation EuroNatur.

Furthermore, the EU explicitly calls upon Albania to improve Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) according to EU standards and to better inform and include the public in the planning procedure. “This position of the European Parliament supports our work in Albania. However, it is important that the Albanian government does not ignore these requirements. Instead of the projected hydropower plants, we demand the designation of the entire Vjosa as a national park – the first Wild River National Park of Europe. The Vjosa is a European jewel”, says Ulrich Eichelmann (Riverwatch), coordinator of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign. This vision is also supported by local communities. Almost all mayors of the Vjosa valley signed a petition for the national park and against the hydro dams.

The Vjosa is the last big wild river in Europe outside Russia. From its source in the Greek mountains to its mouth into the Adriatic Sea it is widely untamed and free flowing.  In some areas the riverbed expands over more than two kilometers in width. Scientifically, this river is widely unexplored. Nevertheless, the government intends to have dams constructed in the ecologically most valuable stretches.

Background information

  • Precise wording of the European Parliament’s position on hydropower development in Albania:

    23. Calls on the Albanian Government to control the development of hydropower plants in environmentally sensitive areas such as around the Vjosa River and in protected areas and to maintain the integrity of existing national parks; recommends improving the quality of environmental impact assessments, which would allow account to be taken of EU standards as established by the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Water Framework Directive; encourages the Albanian Government to increase transparency through public participation and consultation on planned projects;
  •  About the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe“: The hydropower dams on the Vjosa constitute only one wave of a true dam tsunami that is putting Balkan Rivers at risk. About 2700 new dams are currently projected between Slovenia and Albania. In order to counteract this spate of destruction, ‘EuroNatur’ and ‘RiverWatch’ have launched the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign in cooperation with local partner in the respective Balkan counties. Find out more here: www.balkanrivers.net


Contacts
Ulrich Eichelmann – Riverwatch: ulrich.eichelmann(at)riverwatch.eu  +43 676 6621512
Katharina Grund – EuroNatur: katharina.grund(at)euronatur.org   + 49 7732 92 72-10
Olsi Nika – EcoAlbania: o.nika(at)ecoalbania.org +355 69 29 44 757 

How you can help

Donation

Future needs nature. EuroNatur cares for it. Please use your possibilities to help. With your donation you will make an effective contribution to a more livable environment.

Newsletter

Twice a month, EuroNatur provides you with the latest campaign and project information about Europe's natural heritage free of charge and at first hand.

News

New loggings and fires threaten the Domogled National Park

Tree felling is intruding further and further into the forest wilderness of the Domogled National Park at Valea Cernei in the southern Carpathian...

The European Green Belt: Nature conservation connects neighbours

++ The fall of the Berlin Wall marks the birth of the European Green Belt ++ Nature conservation along the former Iron Curtain as a Central European...

Murders in Romania's virgin forests shock public opinion

EuroNatur and Agent Green: Romania must intensify fight against mafia and corruption in forestry sector

ECJ Judgement: No Relaxation of Protection for Wolves

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has placed very tight constraints on the granting of permits allowing wolves to be shot. In their ruling on 10...

“Brave women of Kruščica” receive EuroNatur Award 2019

++ EuroNatur Award goes to dedicated river conservationists from Bosnia-Herzegovina ++ Dam boom threatens the last wild rivers of our continent ++

Another victory for free-flowing rivers inside Mavrovo National Park

++ Construction permits for two hydropower plants annulled after supervision by construction inspectorate ++

New figures: More wolf packs in Western Poland

++ Results of wolf monitoring show at least 95 settled packs ++ Sudetes are also wolf territory again ++

Romania: New inventory reveals huge and threatened natural forest treasure

EuroNatur and Agent Green: Europe must halt forest destruction in Romania

New report: hydropower subsidies wreak environmental havoc and line influential pockets in the Western Balkans

Disproportionate public subsidies for small hydropower in the Western Balkans have resulted in widespread environmental damage and have benefited...

Bridge blocked - river saved - honoured with EuroNatur Award

++ EuroNatur Award 2019 goes to the “brave women of Kruščica" ++ Bridge occupied for over 500 days to block construction of hydropower plants ++ Award...

Ulcinj Salina is now a Ramsar site

We were delighted that, after years of delay, Ulcinj Salina in Montenegro was declared a natural park at the end of June. Now the saltpans on the...

EU-Commission urged to protect Europe's last natural forests from illegal logging

Environmental organisations EuroNatur, Agent Green and ClientEarth have advanced their fight against illegal logging of old-growth and primeval...

Remembering, reviewing and looking ahead: 30 years breakdown of the Iron Curtain

Impulse for a big project: European Green Belt should become UNESCO-world heritage

Power lines: Fatal for migratory birds

++ Autumn migration has begun ++ Overhead powerlines cause the death of millions of migratory birds worldwide ++ International campaign to protect...

“Brave Women of Kruščica” honoured for river protection

++ River conservationists from Bosnia-Herzegovina receive EuroNatur Award 2019 ++ Energy companies want to exploit the last wild rivers of Europe, but...

By using our services, you agree that we use cookies. Data protection