Resistance Against Construction of Airport in Albania

Despite constant pressure from national and international NGOs, the Albanian government is sticking to the construction of a major airport near Vlora – in the middle of the Narta lagoon, one of the most important resting areas for birds who take shelter when migrating. NGOs as well as Albanian environmental experts strongly critisise the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the construction project.

Narta Lagoon from a bird's eye view

Where the Vjosa flows into the Adriatic Sea, it has created another natural paradise: the Narta Lagoon.

© Nick St. Oegger
Water birds in the Narta Lagoon

Will it soon be planes instead of flamingos?

© Zydjon Vorpsi/PPNEA
Edi Rama gives a speech

For Edi Rama, the construction of the airport is a prestige object. He symbolically opened the construction site on the Albanian bank holidays (28 November).

Recently, the report about the EIA for the planned airport project was published. A preliminary analysis, carried out by experts of national environmental organisations and scientists from the country‘s most important research institutions showed, that the EIA shows striking deficencies. They say it is biased and „deliberately“ created in favour of the airport construction inside the nature conserved area Vjosa-Narta.

The most important aspects, which are not addressed by the environmental impact assessment, are the following:

  • The designated area is a nationally and internationally recognised nature reserve (Emerald Network). The construction of the airport could result in sanctions as per the Bern Convention.
  • During the decision-making process it was neglected to involve international experts who should have been able to participate in a project of this size. It can be assumed that the decision will provoke an international reaction that could have a negative effect on other national priorities in Albania. In order to join the EU, the construction of the airport in a nature reserve is not a good signal.
  • Natural desasters such as floods have not been taken into account by the EIA. The European Climate Agency predicts high risks of floodings in the area where the airport is to be built by 2050.

Further references about the numerous inaccuracies in the EIA report can be found in this detailed document. A broad alliance of Albanian NGOS requests the authorities in charge to enter into a constructive dialogue concerning the future of the Narta lagoon and to move away from this project. EuroNatur supports their partners in Albania.

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