The Banja Luka District Court has canceled the environmental permit for the planned 93 MW Buk Bijela hydropower plant on the river Drina in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Aarhus Resource Center in Sarajevo has announced today, following the court’s positive 13 May ruling on the Center’s complaint, CEE Bankwatch Network said in a press release.
A renewal of an earlier permit issued in 2013, the canceled permit was issued by the Republika Srpska Ministry for Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology in May 2018, after which the Aarhus Centar submitted its complaint in June 2018 regarding procedural deficiencies.
The investor, state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), had failed to request a renewal of the permit within the legally-defined deadline, meaning that the Ministry was obliged to cancel the permit because construction had not begun within four years of the initial permit being issued.
Likewise, no new public consultations were held either in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or in Montenegro, even though the reservoir would stretch to the Montenegrin border, and such consultations are required by both the Aarhus and Espoo Conventions. The initial 2012 consultations were poorly advertised, and the comments submitted by civil society groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro were not taken into account, Bankwatch said.
The environmental assessment study claims that there would be no impact on the UNESCO-protected river Tara, without providing any evidence. Considering that the Tara is the main tributary of the Drina and that the reservoir would extend to the Montenegrin border, impacts like disrupting the movement of species up and downstream are inevitable and need to be examined.
Serbia, Republika Srpska intent to jointly build Buk Bijela
Serbia and Republika Srpska intend to jointly build the Buk Bijela hydropower plant, according to earlier reports.
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.