The Slovenian government has halted preparations to produce a national spatial plan (DPN) for the Hrastje-Mota hydropower plant (HPP), the first that was planned on the Mura river.
Numerous NGOs, which had been opposing the construction of the HPP over its negative environmental impact, welcomed the decision. However, the project developer, HSE Group, said that the government’s decision is a consequence of one sector (environment) pursuing a partial interest at the expense of broader social, agricultural and climate-energy objectives.
The government said that following the Resolution on the Preparation of a DPN for HPP Hrastje-Mota, issued on May 16, 2013, three alternatives were examined, all of which were assessed, in the environmental report, as having a significant impact (assessment class D).
All the planned HPPs are of the run-of-river type with a capacity of up to 55 MW and an accumulated storage volume of 4 million cubic meters.
According to the government, the report was concluded by stating that the alternatives studied did not make it possible to achieve good ecological status for surface waters, that it would not be possible to prevent a deterioration in their ecological status and, moreover, that the nature conservation objectives could not be met.
In July 2018, as part of the Man and the Biosphere program and at Slovenia’s proposal, UNESCO declared the Mura River Biosphere Reserve, making it part of the global network of biosphere reserves.
The parties to the comprehensive environmental impact procedure (the Slovenian Society for the Study of Fish and the Association of Societies for River Protection and Sustainable Development Along the Mura – Moja Mura) warned of the impact on the Mura, the government recalled.
Cancel the concession decree for all 8 HPPs – WWF
Although the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) would like to celebrate this victory, the fight continues to finally save the Mura River in Slovenia, an integral part of the Amazon of Europe, the NGO said on its website.
“We are demanding a final decision to cancel the concession decree for all 8 HPPs (as initiated by former minister of environment Jure Leben), as well as the establishment of a Landscape Protected Area on the Mura. Implementation of both actions would contribute significantly to the long term preservation of the Mura River and the establishment of the Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve, the world’s first 5-country transboundary biosphere reserve,” the WWF said.
There is no abundance of renewable energy sources in Slovenia – HSE Group
HSE Group said that it is possible to compensate for the expected environmental impact with the compensatory measures and that in this way the facility of the HPP Hrastje-Mota can become environmentally acceptable.
In the last few months, the company addressed to the competent ministries, the government and the public several initiatives for the continuation of a constructive dialogue.
“We are aware that the search for possible compromise solutions is a long-term project, which requires a lot of effort from all stakeholders, but we believe that this needs to be done for the benefit of all citizens of the Republic of Slovenia, the current and future generations,” HSE Group said, adding that there is no abundance of renewable energy sources in Slovenia.