Environment

Legal toolkit produced to help activists protect rivers from hydropower projects

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Photo: Vjosa Forever/credit Andrew Burr

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April 26, 2021

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Published:

April 26, 2021

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Save the Blue Heart of Europe, a campaign for the protection of undammed rivers in the Balkans, has announced the launch of a legal toolkit aimed at providing guidance to activists and civil society organizations on how to protect rivers from hydropower development.

The toolkit provides an easy, accessible overview of the most relevant international laws and EU environmental regulations, which can be used to legally challenge new hydropower plants, Save the Blue Heart of Europe said on its Facebook page.

The document is a step-by-step guide for assessing whether permits issued for the construction of new hydropower plants are legally valid and whether there have been flaws in the procedures applied.

Europe has seen hydropower development boom despite its minimal contribution to energy supply

The environmental organizations promoting the toolkit have warned that Europe has experienced a construction boom for new hydropower projects over the past 15 to 20 years, despite growing evidence that their contribution to the continent’s electricity supply is minimal.

Small hydropower plants are often falsely promoted as an indispensable pillar of the renewable energy transition that provides cheap, green and climate-friendly energy, the organizations warned, noting that both large and small hydropower installations have disastrous ecological consequences for riverine ecosystems and biodiversity.

The legal toolkit will be presented at a webinar on April 29

The toolkit, whose author is environmental and energy lawyer Malgorzata Smolak, will be presented at a webinar on April 29, co-hosted by Save the Blue Heart of Europe, EuroNatur, Wetlands International Europe, Riverwatch, and Client Earth.

The toolkit is a product of the Lawyers for Rivers Initiative, launched in 2018 by EuroNatur, GEOTA, Riverwatch, Wetlands International European Association, and WWF Adria.

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