After an hour of heated debate, the public hearing on the draft spatial plan and strategic assessment of the environmental impact of the construction of the Kolubara B thermal power plant was halted. The project has so far produced numerous controversies.
Non-governmental organization Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute – RERI has announced that the representatives of the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure left the hall of the Municipal Assembly of Lazarevac without any explanation, while the ministry has said that it decided to end the discussion due to RERI’s obstruction.
RERI: Representatives of the ministries left the hall without explanation
According to a statement from RERI, the ministry tried, despite obvious organizational shortcomings, to hold a public session of the planning commission as part of the public consultation about the draft plan for the special purpose area for the construction of thermal power plant Kolubara B and the strategic environmental impact assessment.
Representatives of the organizers did not take notes
RERI said organizers didn’t write the official minutes.
After an hour of discussion on procedural issues, the representatives of the ministry left the hall of the Municipal Assembly of Lazarevac without any explanation, RERI said.
According to the environmentalist group, because of the COVID-19 the government prohibited gatherings of more than 30 people in public places indoors and outdoors while there were 40 people in the town hall and another 20 in front of it.
The authorities are preventing citizens from being informed about the environmental impacts of the project developed jointly by Serbia and China, according to RERI
There is a serious concern not only due to the obvious economic and environmental consequences of the construction of Kolubara B, but also because public authorities are increasingly depriving citizens of the right to participate in the decision-making process and to be informed about possible environmental impacts of the agreements between the Chinese and Serbian authorities, RERI said.
Ministry: RERI abused the public debate to draw attention to itself
After RERI’s announcement, the ministry said the organization’s obstruction prevented the ministry’s representatives to respond to all the citizens’ objections.
Obstruction prevented government officials from responding to citizens’ objections
The government cited demands for a larger number of citizens than allowed to enter the hall, obstruction of the commission’s work, requests not in line with the public insight procedures, as well as false accusations against the commission.
Public insight is an opportunity to improve public participation in the development of planning documents, but the non-governmental organization abused it to draw attention to itself, which caused damage to citizens, who have the right to receive all the answers, the ministry said.