The Green Party has submitted a proposal of a draft new environmental impact assessment law to introduce a mandatory impact assessment for small hydropower plants (SHPPs), the party said on its website.
The Green Party advocates a complete ban on the construction of SHPPs in protected areas and national parks.
“Protected areas and national parks should be preserved from devastation by the state. But who will protect them from the state?,” said Sonja Nikolić, electrical engineer and head of the Green Party Energy Council said, following the screening of the documentary “Blue Heart, which delves into how the construction of SHPPs devastates nature,” oin the party’s premises.
Investment costs for SHPPs are relatively low, she said.
“In addition, these costs are fully covered by citizens through feed-in tariffs. Each of us pays a fee for privileged energy producers through our electricity bills. We are forced to finance this type of energy, which is supposedly generated from a renewable energy sources. The owner of the hydroelectric power plant can achieve an investment return in four to five years while feed-in tariffs are paid for twelve years for the electricity it generates and sells. That’s why there is great interest in the construction of SHPPs,” she noted.
Ratko Bajčetić, vice president of the Green Party and expert in water management, said that while water is a renewable energy source, SHPPs are certainly not because they devastate almost everyone else.
Biodiversity, forests, and habitats of numerous flora and fauna species are being destroyed, while from the social point of view, the existence of the local population and traditional organic agriculture are endangered. “The question – is: Is all of this worth a few kWh of electricity?,” said Bajčetić.
Opposition to SHPPs mounts
A few days ago, Serbian Minister of Environmental Protection Goran Trivan announced an initiative to change the country’s nature protection law to avert the construction of SHPPs in protected areas. The move followed his recent attempt to pull approval for SHPP Pakleštica, threatening to hurt biodiversity in the Visočica river basin, near Pirot, which was quashed by a court.
Small hydropower plant projects in protected areas recently caused a spat between Trivan and the Ministry of Construction, Transportation, and Infrastructure, which said that it issued construction permits for the projects in question only after investors obtained all necessary permits, including environmental impact approvals.