Hydropower plant in Romania: Successful court case, but construction continues

Positive court ruling, yet no reason to celebrate: Construction works for the hydropower plant at the Jiu River will continue. The Romanian environmental protection agency had filed a complaint against the environmentally destructive project following pressure by committed nature conservationists. In turn, the state-owned project operator Hidroelectrica filed a lawsuit. The Romanian court of appeals now rejected the lawsuit – however, construction works won’t be stopped.

Construction works are allowed to continue, but the environmentalists will not give in… © Calin Dejeu

Calin Dejeu of Romanian environmental NGO “Efectul Fluture” has been fighting for a free-flowing Jiu for years. This wild river in the Carpathian Mountains is a hotspot of biodiversity, which the projected hydropower plant would destroy. However, fighting the dam seems to be like tilting at windmills. Calin and his fellows can neither count on support by the Romanian government, nor on real help from Brussels. Not even court rulings in favour of the environmentalists are a guarantee of success – this is also true for the most recent one of 23 October.

While Hidroelectrica has to present project modifications to the environmental agency according to environmental laws which had been significantly tightened after Romania joined the EU, the court ruling does not say that construction works have to stop. On the contrary, Calin Dejeu and his fellow activists fear that Hidroelectrica, which has already invested about 200 million Euro in the project, will take advantage of the environmental agency’s weakness and will largely ignore the court ruling. The company’s notice that it would by itself select the institute which is to carry out the environmental impact assessment already does not augur well.

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