Licenses for the construction and use of 30 power plants throughout Albania were cancelled by the country’s government for their „failure to meet obligations,“ after members of the European Parliament called on it to reconsider the plans. Prime minister Edi Rama’s cabinet earlier scrapped several such systems that were approved in the last meetings of Sali Berisha’s government, Independent Balkan News Agency said in a report.
In a draft resolution on Albania’s progress towards the EU on April 15, the European Parliament has called on the country’s government to reconsider plans for the construction of hydropower plants in the country’s protected areas, including the current building of a plant on the Lengarica river in the south, citing environmental concerns, Balkan Insight news site reported. The Tirana prosecutor’s office had earlier launched an investigation.
The European Parliament urged the Albanian authorities to develop comprehensive management plans for existing national parks with respect to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) World Commission of Protected Areas’ quality and management guidelines for protected area category II, says an amendment to the draft resolution from MEP Tamás Meszerics from The Greens–European Free Alliance.
“It urges the authorities to abandon any development plans devaluating the country’s protected area network and calls for the abandonment of small and large-scale hydropower construction plans inside all national parks in particular; demands to especially re-think the plans to build hydropower plants along the Vjosa river and its tributaries, since these projects would harm one of Europe’s last extensive, intact and near natural river ecosystems,” the amendment adds.
Meszerics’ colleague from the Greens group, Igor Šoltes, who presented the amendment during the European Parliament foreign affairs commission’s hearing on Albania’s resolution, underlined that the Lengarica project was the only one of the 43 projected hydro projects on Vjosa under construction.
The hydro plant poses a serious environmental risk to the Lengarica canyon, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) claimed in November. The plant is being financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the commercial arm of the World Bank, and is being built by Enso Hydro of Austria through a local subsidiary – Lengarica & Energy.