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Balkan Rivers Tour leads protests against Vjosa hydro plants

May 20, 2016 | Comments: 0Author:

International environmental activists and domestic citizens gathered in Tirana in front of the office of prime minister Edi Rama to raise their voice against hydropower projects in Albania’s free-flowing rivers, particularly the Vjosa.

The protest was the final act of the Balkan Rivers Tour: over 35 days, kayakers from various countries were paddling the most stunning and most threatened rivers in order to draw attention to ‘the imminent dam tsunami.’ Led by former Slovenian Olympic athlete Rok Rozman, the tour started on April 16 on the Sava in Slovenia.

Activists, who were joined at an earlier protest at Vjosa by Ulrike Lunacek, vice president of the European Parliament, demand the entire river of 270 kilometres to be declared Europe’s first wild river national park. Neither Edi Rama nor a representative of the government was willing to receive the petition, Balkanrivers.net reported.

Ayen Enerji AŞ, headquartered in Turkey, won the project for the construction of Poçem hydropower plant, planned for capacity of 99.5 MW, Kenan Karamehmedović, the company’s chief trader, told ICIS portal. He praised the development of the local power market and added the firm anticipates it will grow faster than in other countries of the region, according to a report published on May 9.

The tender was opened in February with protests by environmentalists and the European Union. The hydro facility, a venture project with Çinar-San Hafriyat Nakliyat Inşaat Turizm Sanayi Ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi, will be located on the Vjosa river in central Albania. Investment is reported to be EUR 100 million. The company is anticipating the receipt of the concession licence from the government in Tirana, to be granted 36 months for completion, the article adds.

Ayen Enerji constructed the 111 MW Fan river multi-plant hydro project, which has four phases. The two smaller run-of-river plants with a 19 MW total installed capacity should be launched by the middle of next year, ICIS said.