A complaint filed by Macedonian environmental organisation Front 21/42 was sustained by the Administrative Court Skopje and declared the licence for the construction of a large hydropower project in Mavrovo National Park devoid of any legal basis.
“With this, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is more than overdue to definitively withdraw its funding of the project,“ demands Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur Foundation, in a press release published jointly with Riverwatch and Front 21/42.
The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning had granted the licence in 2012 on the basis of an inadequate and incomplete environmental impact assessment, the report says. “The construction of hydropower projects inside Mavrovo National Park stands in stark contrast to the goals of protection. We expect that the court decision will finally lead to the ultimate stop of the project Boškov most. This was an unexpected success for us, for Mavrovo National Park and for the environmental movement in Macedonia,“ stated Aleksandra Bujaroska of Front 21/42.
“This legal success in Macedonia gives us hope for other projects in the Balkans, since most of the 2,700 hydropower plants projected between Slovenia and Albania are being rushed through without any reliable environmental assessment”, says Ulrich Eichlemann from Riverwatch and coordinator of the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign. A total of two large and 15 small hydropower plants are planned for Mavrovo. In December, the Bern Convention called upon the country’s government to stop all construction projects in the national park and to conduct an extensive strategic environmental assessment.
On May 4, an international alliance of kayakers, anglers, residents and nature conservationists protested against the construction of the hydropower plants. The event was part of the Balkan Rivers Tour.