The Central Bosnia Canton has drafted changes to its spatial plan, which envisage the construction of another 38 small hydropower plants. It is already in the lead in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 36 SHPPs.
The House of Representatives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) adopted in June a declaration on the protection of rivers and voted to ban the construction of small hydropower plants. However, implementation is obviously lagging. The ball is in the field of the FBiH government, which was back then given three months to propose a law and decree amendments to enable effective implementation.
The National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska adopted its own declaration on the protection of rivers a few days ago and the effect remains to be seen. It seems that parliamentary action is not enough to stop the construction of small hydropower plants. They are classified as renewable energy systems but they cause more damage than benefits in the region.
Of note, the two said entities, which make up BiH, are the only such examples in the Western Balkans, while Montenegro has made similar steps. There are ten cantons in FBiH.
A public debate on the draft plan to follow
According to local media outlet Radiotelevizija Herceg-Bosne, the Central Bosnia Canton has recently awarded 38 concessions for SHPPs and they are included in the draft amendments to the spatial plan for 2020-2025. The draft will be soon on public debate in the canton’s municipalities.
Its Prime Minister Tahir Lendo said that when it comes to SHPPs, the authorities will abide by the laws, spatial plans and decisions of local communities.
Asked whether construction would be stopped due to the decision by the FBiH House of Representatives, he claimed the canton has always respected the stance of the local communities.
He said the number of requests for concessions was reduced and pointed to the fact that several concession agreements, such as those for small hydropower plants on the Kruščica river near Vitez, were taken to court.
A group known today as the Brave Women of Kruščica blocked the bridge for 500 days and nights in order to prevent the construction of two SHPPs.
Oroz: Total disaster
Robert Oroz, head of activist group Gotuša from Fojnica, stressed that the Central Bosnia canton is in the lead in FBiH with the number of small hydropower plants.
“As soon as anyone mentions the amendments to the spatial plan, we are immediately afraid, and now it is clear why, because the document envisages another 38 small hydropower plants in the near future. At the moment, there are 36, and the construction of another 38 would be a total catastrophe,” he said.
112 SHPPs were built in BiH
Oroz added most cantons do not obey the decision of the House of Representatives, but he highlighted the Zenica-Doboj Canton as a positive example where authorities refused to issue a concession based on the entity parliament’s decision.
According to Eco Action, an organization based in Sarajevo, 112 small hydropower plants have been built in BiH so far, and more than 340 more are planned.