Green NGOs call EBRD’s loan approval for hydropower plant ‘extremely irresponsible’
25 November 2011, Croatian Times
Environmental NGOs have described as “extremely irresponsible” the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) approval of a 123 million Euro loan for the construction of the Ombla underground hydropower plant near Dubrovnik.
Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia, the Croatian Biospeleological Society, Transparency International Hrvatska, Srđ je naš, Baobab, Eko Zeleno Sunce, Brodsko ekološko društvo-BED, Center for Environment (B&H), Eko-Zadar, and regional organisation CEE Bankwatch Network have issued a statement criticising the EBRD’s decision.
The project, planned by Croatian electricity company HEP, has attracted numerous criticisms on environmental, economic and procedural grounds, the NGOs write. It will be situated in an area designated for protection under the EU’s Natura 2000 network due to its valuable cave fauna, but its impact on the Natura 2000 site has not yet been assessed.
Jagoda Munic from Zelena akcija NGO said: “HEP is obviously in a great hurry to get this project approved and signed – such a hurry that there is no time to wait for the Natura 2000 impact assessment to be done and no time to carry out a new environmental impact assessment instead of one that dates from 1999.”
“That HEP is trying to get all the documentation and permits in place before Croatia enters the EU and is subject to stricter environmental standards is unfortunately not surprising,” she continued, “but the EBRD, as a primarily European public institution, should know better than to prematurely approve a project that has not fulfilled the legal requirements.”
In another appeal earlier, Jana Bedek from Croatian Biospeleogical Society said the construction of the power plant would be detrimental for a variety of species living in the nearby caves.
“The hydropower plant planned by the Croatian electricity company HEP would involve flooding a cave with high biodiversity value that is due to be protected as part of the Natura 2000 biodiversity network when Croatia enters the European Union. Several important studies are still missing and the Environmental Impact Study is more than 10 years old. It’s an obvious example of rushing to finish destructive projects quickly before Croatia can be held accountable under EU environmental legislation,” Bedek said.
Croatia’s entry into the EU is not the only deadline that is looming. On 4 December Croatia will be holding parliamentary elections, and the main opposition coalition has already pledged not to go ahead with the Ombla project if it is elected, the NGOs write. The hurried approval is presumably an attempt to bring the project to as advanced a stage as possible before the election threatens its future, they say.
Theme: Energy & climate