Environment

Environmentalists block construction of Komarnica hydroelectric plant

Environmentalists block construction of Komarnica hydroelectric plant

Photo: CDE / Dobrica Mitrović

Published

April 19, 2022

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Published:

April 19, 2022

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The Komarnica hydroelectric plant project was halted because environmental organizations from Montenegro filed a complaint with the Secretariat of the Bern Convention with regard to biodiversity protection. The Government of Montenegro has granted a concession to state-owned utility Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG) to use the natural resource to build the hydropower plant, but it will have to wait for the latest dispute to be resolved.

The Montenegrin Ecologists Society (CDE), together with the Society of Young Ecologists Nikšić and the Organization KOD, filed a complaint with the Secretariat of the Bern Convention regarding the decision of the Government of Montenegro to grant EPCG the concession for electricity production for the Komarnica hydroelectric plant project. Also, CDE is calling with local activists on a protest rally in the Komarnica area, scheduled to be held from April 30 to May 3.

CDE and local activists are calling for a protest rally in the Komarnica area from April 30 to May 3

By deciding to grant a concession, Montenegro violated articles 3 and 4 of the Bern Convention, which obliges signatories to improve national wildlife conservation policies, as well as recommendations related to the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats, Montenegrin environmentalists said.

EPCG has 60-year concession

In late summer 2020, the government awarded EPCG the concession for 60 years. According to early projections, the HPP would cost between EUR 260 and EUR 290 million.

Annual production was estimated at 213 GWh. EPCG is financing 51% of HPP Komarnica and Elektroprivreda Srbije is covering 49%.

The construction of the 172 MW hydroelectric plant with a 171-meter-high dam and a 17.6 kilometer-long reservoir would cause numerous adverse impacts on protected habitats and species, which would be irreversibly lost, CDE said.

Project development versus biodiversity conservation

The authors of the environmental impact assessment study pointed out that in the case of Komarnica, economic development is not in balance with biodiversity conservation, environmentalists stressed. The other necessary assessments were not carried out in line with Montenegrin laws either, they added.

The organization asked why EPCG has not yet shown the basic documentation and said the company never showed it the contract nor a preliminary project design for the hydroelectric power plant, Vijesti daily reports.

The complaint was submitted over “poor treatment of the environment and a risky approach to determining priorities with regard to social development and care for future generations”

The complaint was submitted to the Secretariat of the Berne Convention as a response to “the lack of seriousness and perseverance in the European integration process, poor treatment of the environment, and a risky approach to determining priorities with regard to social development and care for future generations,” the environmentalists explained.

The secretariat will forward the complaint to the competent institutions of Montenegro, which have to respond until September 15 to the claims that the construction of the Komarnica HPP would destroy the flora and fauna and their habitats, said Andrijana Mićanović from CDE.

Komarnica is protected area

The Komarnica area is categorized as a natural monument and a nature park, and it has been nominated to become an Emerald site. As local environmentalists say, parts of the river should be declared a Natura 2000 protected area.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have proposed the Komarnica area to be declared a national park and to become a Unesco world heritage site like Durmitor and Tara.

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