The Croatian Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection has refused state-owned HEP Group’s environmental impact assessment study for the Ombla hydropower project near Dubrovnik, CEE Bankwatch Network reported. In its decision published on 28 July, the ministry cited significant negative impacts on preserving the integrity of the Ecological Network (Croatia’s part of the Natura 2000 network), “which cannot be excluded, in spite of mitigation measures”. Minister Mihael Zmajlović said Ombla HPP would add less than 2% to power generation capacity in the country and that the environmental impact would be serious and permanent, according to a report on HRT (Croatian Radiotelevision).
The move comes more than two years after the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development withdrew from financing of the 68 MW underground HPP. HEP attempted to push on, but after negative submissions to the public consultation on the environmental impact assessment by local people, NGOs including Bankwatch’s member Zelena akcija / Friends of the Earth Croatia, and expert bodies like the State Institute for Nature Protection and Croatian Biospeleological Society, the ministry has put a stop to the project, the report said. Dubrovnik City Council unanimously adopted a declaration in May against the construction of the power facility.
Elijana Čandrlić, HRT’s economy editor, commented the project was 30 years old. Several years ago the funds were finally secured by the EBRD, but the contract was terminated and the government even paid penalties for two years, she added.