Dirty power plants in Western Balkans and Ukraine set to become EU priority
October 22, 2013
Belgrade - Several environmentally damaging coal and hydropower projects across the Western Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova are likely to be included this Thursday on a priority list of projects of the European Commission-backed Energy Community, meaning they will be fast-tracked for financing over the next years.
The Energy Community is meant to integrate the signatory countries' energy systems into that of the EU.
Among the projects submitted  for prioritisation by the members of the Energy Community, 15 have been identified by Bankwatch as prone to causing serious harm to the climate, environment and health .
These include the Kosova e Re lignite power plant in Kosovo, three lignite plants including Kolubara B in Serbia, and two new coal units in western Ukraine - Burshtyn and Dobrotvir - that would be aimed mostly at electricity exports to the EU, while leaving health and environmental costs to the local population.
Several hydropower plants which would damage protected areas, are also on the list.
"It is highly ironic that an EU-backed body such as the Energy Community prioritises these polluting projects considering that they directly conflict with EU environmental legislation or climate goals," comments Bankwatch's Pippa Gallop.
"The Energy Community is meant to make it easier for its members to join the EU – and most of these countries are very interested in accession," adds Gallop. "But in reality constructing these polluting coal plants or environmentally harmful large hydro plants and transmission lines puts a huge financial burden on pre-accession countries for later on, when they will have to fix conflicts with EU legislation. The prioritisation of these projects now primarily serves EU energy import needs."
The selected projects will be allowed to undergo a fast-track approval process on the national level, which may mean the concerned public might not be consulted thoroughly before approval. Despite repeated requests by NGOs and local groups to see the shortlisted projects proposed for prioritisation, the Energy Community has refused to disclose any information to date.
The chosen projects will also be prioritised for financing by international financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Although the EBRD is currently revising its energy strategy and civil society groups are asking it to halt lending for fossil fuels, starting with coal, it - along with the World Bank - has already shown interest in financing the highly contested Kosova e Re lignite plant.
Bankwatch research coordinator
pippa.gallop at bankwatch.org
Tel.: +385 99 755 9787
Notes for editors
1. The original list of Projects of Energy Community Interest here
is supplemented by an additional 15 projects that were published in May 2013
2. See a visualisation of projects proposed for prioritisation by the Energy Community which Bankwatch assesses as problematic:
3. Read a briefing about the Energy Community and the harmful projects proposed for prioritisation:
4. Although the European Investment Bank has recently made a virtual withdrawal from financing coal projects, it remains open to financing large hydropower projects and transmission lines aimed at exporting electricity from Energy Community Parties to the EU.
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