Renewables

Aarhus Centre lodges court complaints against environmental permits for HPPs Buk Bijela, Foča

Photo: Bankwatch

Published

July 27, 2018

Comments

comments icon

0

Share

Published:

July 27, 2018

Comments:

comments icon

0

Share

The Aarhus Resource Centre Sarajevo has submitted two complaints to the District Court in Banja Luka against the environmental permits for the Buk Bijela and Foča hydropower plants (HPPs) on the river Drina in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) near the border with Montenegro, CEE Bankwatch Network, one of the largest networks of environmental civil society organizations in Central and Eastern Europe, said in a press release.

The river Drina constitutes the most significant habitat for the endangered Danube Salmon (Hucho hucho), while the area has also developed small-scale tourism facilities based on rafting and angling which would be heavily impacted by any nearby dams, Bankwatch said.

“The Republika Srpska Ministry for Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology extended both the environmental permits even though the investor failed to request their renewal within the legally defined deadline. The Ministry should have annulled the previous permits considering that construction had not begun within four years of their issuance. Instead, it issued an illegal decision to prolong the existing environmental permits. In contravention of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s obligations under the Aarhus and Espoo Conventions, the environmental impact assessments were not repeated, nor were the public consultations, either in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Montenegro,” said Nina Kreševljaković of the Aarhus Resource Centre in Sarajevo.

The original public consultations, held in 2012, had been poorly advertised and the comments provided by NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro were not taken into account, according to the press release.

“The latest version of the project is claimed in the environmental impact assessment not to impact on the river Tara, but without any evidence provided. Considering that the Tara is the main tributary of the Drina and that the reservoir would reach the Montenegrin border, it is inevitable that some impacts would occur and need to be assessed”, pointed out Nataša Kovačević from Green Home in Montenegro.

HPP Buk Bijela is being pushed by state-owned Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), the power utility of Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska, and a memorandum on construction of the project was signed with China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation (AVIC-ENG) in July 2017. It is expected to be financed by Chinese state banks, Bankwatch recalled.

The 44 MW Foča plant, a few kilometers downstream, is also promoted by ERS. Both plants are part of the so-called Upper Drina cascade, along with the planned Sutjeska and Paunci plants, the press release reads.

“Chinese banks are already attracting negative publicity for their support for coal power plants in the region,” added Pippa Gallop from CEE Bankwatch Network. “Financing harmful hydropower plants like Buk Bijela and Foča is only going to create more disharmony between China’s business activities and Bosnia-Herzegovina’s EU aspirations. The EU urgently needs to ensure that the countries in the region adhere with EU nature protection legislation, no matter who is financing infrastructure projects, and Chinese banks need to enhance their due diligence around such projects.”

ERS subsidiary sets up concession unit for HPP Buk Bijela project

At a recently held shareholder meeting, ERS’ subsidiary Hidroelektrane Na Drini set up a concession company for the Buk Bijela hydropower plant.

Earlier, Republika Srpska’s energy minister, Petar Đokić, said that he expects ERS to soon launch a public invitation for a turnkey project to build the hydropower plant. He has also said that the project to build the 93.52 MW HPP Buk Bijela would require an investment of about EUR 200 million.

Đokić has also said that the governments of Republika Srpska and Serbia will discuss the joint construction of the Paunci and Foča hydropower plants at their next session, which, according to local media, should be held in late August in Trebinje.

Đokić said that he hopes by the time the session is held, a negotiating procedure will be carried out and a concession for the construction of the Paunci and Foča hydropower plants (HPP) awarded to the entity’s power utility, ERS. This will be done so that ERS can have an adequate relationship with Serbia’s power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) on the project, according to Đokić.

Comments (0)

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Enter Your Comment
Please wait... Please fill in the required fields. There seems to be an error, please refresh the page and try again. Your comment has been sent.

Related Articles

milorad dodik Republic Srpska Serbia lithium

Republic of Srpska in BiH to mirror Serbia’s lithium mining projects

23 July 2024 - President of the Republic of Srpska in BiH Milorad Dodik said the entity would follow Serbia's example in projects for critical raw materials

serbia lithium memorandum eu scholz vucic

Government of Serbia signs MoU with EU backing Rio Tinto’s Jadar lithium project

19 July 2024 - Serbia and the EU have signed the MoU on strategic partnership in the sectors of sustainable raw materials, battery value chains and electric vehicles

Serbia officially revives Rio Tinto lithium mining project Jadar decree

Serbia officially revives Rio Tinto’s lithium mining project Jadar

16 July 2024 - The Government of Serbia annulled the 2022 abolishment of Rio Tinto's project Jadar for a lithium mine and processing plant

Australian company Volt Resources waiting to enter lithium race in western Serbia

Australian company waiting to enter lithium race in western Serbia

16 July 2024 - Volt Resources has the rights to exploration license applications for lithium and borates in three areas in western Serbia