Legal challenge mounted against subsidies for Belgrade waste incinerator
Serbia’s Ne Davimo Beograd movement has submitted two complaints to the Energy Community Secretariat, challenging government decisions for the Suez-Itochu consortium’s 340,000 tonnes-per-year municipal waste incinerator in Belgrade (1).
2 March 2020
Protest in front of the city administration
The first complaint challenges the approval by the Ministry of Mining and Energy in September 2019 of a feed-in tariff for all electricity generated by the incinerator (2). Only energy from the biodegradable fraction of waste is considered renewable under the EU’s 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, to which Serbia has committed under the Energy Community Treaty (3).
The second complaint alleges that the Serbian government breached the EU Directive on environmental impact assessment (EIA)(4) by issuing a construction permit for the incinerator in August 2019, a month and a half before the EIA was approved. This, according to the complaint, prejudiced the outcome of the EIA process and rendered the public consultation meaningless (5).
Aleksa Petković of Ne Davimo Beograd said, “Burning mixed municipal waste and diesel as an auxiliary fuel is clearly not renewable energy and must not receive subsidies. The EU is moving towards a circular economy, increasing separate waste collection and recycling. Serbia deserves a healthy and efficient system too, but it will never develop if we lock Belgrade into expensive, polluting and wasteful incineration.”
Pippa Gallop of CEE Bankwatch Network said: “The European Commission and European Investment Bank declined to back this project because it would hinder Serbia in reaching EU circular economy targets. But other public lenders press on, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Financial Corporation, the Marguerite II Fund and Austrian Development Bank, in blatant disregard for EU law. They need to stop digging and withdraw from the project”.
Pippa Gallop, CEE Bankwatch Network
Mobile: +385 99 755 9787
Aleksa Petković, Ne davimo Beograd
Mobile: +381 64 569 7566
Notes for editors
- In 2017 the Beo Clean Energy consortium, owned by Suez, Itochu and the Marguerite II Fund, signed a concession agreement with the Belgrade city authorities for a 340,000 tonne-per-year municipal waste incinerator next to the existing Vinca landfill, along with a new landfill, construction waste facility and landfill gas facility. The project is financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation and the Austrian Development Bank (OeEB). More information about the Belgrade waste management PPP can be found here: https://bankwatch.org/project/belgrade-incinerator-public-private-partnership-ppp-belgrade-serbia
- Decision to award the status of temporary privileged producer of electrical energy to Beo Čista Energija d.o.o., for the EfW Vinča waste power plant, installed capacity 30.24 MW, no. 312-01-00818/2019-06, of 27.09.2019.
- Under Energy Community Ministerial Council Decision 2012/04/MC-EnC, Serbia committed to implement Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources by 1 January 2014. Article 2 of the Directive defines renewable energy as follows: “(a) “energy from renewable sources” means energy from renewable non-fossil sources, namely wind, solar, aerothermal, geothermal, hydrothermal and ocean energy, hydropower, biomass, land-fill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogases”. It further specifies that: “(e) “biomass” means the biodegradable fraction of products, waste and residues from biological origin from agriculture (including vegetal and animal substances), forestry and related industries including fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the biodegradable fraction of industrial and municipal waste”.
- Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Directive 2011/92/EU.
- The construction permits for the incinerator, no. ROP-MSGI-3997-CPI-3/2019, and the landfill gas facility, no. ROP-MSGI-3997-CPI-4/2019, were issued on 16.08.2019, while the environmental impact assessment for the plants was approved only on 30.09.2019 (Decision no. 353-02-1302/2019-039). Article 2 of the EIA Directive requires that (our emphasis): “1. Member States shall adopt all measures necessary to ensure that, before development consent is given, projects likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue, inter alia, of their nature, size or location are made subject to a requirement for development consent and an assessment with regard to their effects on the environment.
More details on the clash between EU recycling targets and the Belgrade incinerator can be found here: https://bankwatch.org/press_release/new-analysis-belgrade-incinerator-public-private-partnership-a-textbook-case-of-corporate-capture
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