Campaign

Campaign against "Ombla" hydroelectric power plant

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 in 2013.
Natural Resources

Programme: Natural Resources

Ombla2

The Environmental Impact Study is more than 10 years old and of bad quality.  More than 30 NGOs sent an open letter to EBRD in October 2011 not to grant a loan to HEP for this project (1), but, the EBRD approved HEP a loan for the construction of 123 million euros (out of total estimated costs od construction of 154 million euros), with a condition to conduct a biodiversity assessment of the area.

Adding to concerns about the project's environmental impacts, the EBRD's consultants Tractabel Engineering and Projektni Biro Split have concluded that “the project fails to recover both investment outlays and recurrent costs, in fact yielding a considerable cost in commercial terms …. the project could only be implemented if it was heavily subsidized by the government”. Their report goes on to add that increasing electricity prices by 200 percent could also solve the problem, a move not likely to be welcomed by the Croatian public. This report leaked to the public, but both EBRD and HEP claim that it was only draft, and the final report proves otherwise. However, they do not want to reveal the final report to public.

After change of the Croatian Government in December 2011, the Minister of Environment and Nature has sent the EIA for the HE Ombla for a revision to 4 experts. The three of them said that EIA is of bad quality and incomplete. However, in June 2012 the Minister had to resign and these revisions have not been taken into account for decision-making. In the same time the DG Environment of EU has mandated an expert to review numerous EIAs for different projects in Croatia, including one for HE Ombla (2).

The expert concluded that: “So the overall conclusion of the impacts on the living world: “The project, once in operation, due to maintaining the current discharge at the spring of the Ombla River, will have no adverse impacts on the current associations of water habitats at Ombla and Rijeka Dubrovačka” is not acceptable.

The report recommended that:

As the permits for this project were delivered some years ago, it is not possible to review this project in the context of article 6.3. However in view of the serious concerns expressed by the NGOs on the impact of the project and the very poor quality of the EIA it would be very useful to get the following information:  

  1. Confirmation whether the Authorities really intend to implement the project. What is the economic/technical basis for this in terms of the total amount of electricity expected to be produced per year, and the distribution of energy gains during the year; this should be compared with the production of all other currently implemented energy projects in the wider area.
  2. Confirmation that if the project does go ahead the recommendations for mitigation measures in the bat survey will be implemented in full – i.e., installation of the new drainage tunnel and constructions works to be done outside the summer roosting period of April to November. Otherwise there may be a case to answer for as regards Article 6.2 of the Habitats Directive in due course.
  3. It would also be important to ask what studies have been done to assess the impact of the project on the Olm and the habitat 8310 (both protected under Habitats Directive)
  4. Consideration of the cumulative effect of this project and the other grand schemes foreseen for the area, which could collectively have a major impact on these cave systems and their species.

The state of the project at the moment is that Governments is still pushing it but the biodiversity assessment and impact on nature and biodiversity has still not been finished.

 

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1.

See: http://zelena-akcija.hr/en/programmes/biodiversity/activities/environmental_groups_call_on_the_ebrd_not_to_finance_high_risk_underground_hydropower_plant_in_croatian_cave

2.

For details see the annex of this assessment at: http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/zelena-akcija.production/zelena_akcija/document_translations/853/doc_files/original/Annex-letter-Minister-July-2.pdf?1347623920.


23.10.12. 21:09