Government cancels contracts for 30 hydro plants

POSTED BY: BGEN 24/04/2015

Licenses
for the construction and use of 30 power plants throughout Albania were
cancelled by the country’s government for their „failure to meet obligations,“
after members of the European Parliament called on it to reconsider the plans.
Prime minister Edi Rama’s cabinet earlier cancelled several power plants which
were approved in the last meetings of Sali Berisha’s government, Independent
Balkan News Agency said in a report.

In a draft
resolution on Albania’s progress towards the EU on April 15, the European
Parliament has called on the country’s government to reconsider plans for the
construction of hydropower plants in the country’s protected areas, including
the current building of a plant on the Lengarica river in the south, citing
environmental concerns, Balkan Insight news site reported. The Tirana
prosecutor’s office had earlier launched an investigation.

The
European Parliament urged the Albanian authorities to develop comprehensive
management plans for existing national parks with respect to the IUCN
(International Union for Conservation of Nature) World Commission of Protected
Areas’ quality and management guidelines for protected area category II, says
an amendment to the draft resolution from MEP Tamás Meszerics from The Greens–European
Free Alliance.

“It urges
the authorities to abandon any development plans devaluating the country’s
protected area network and calls for the abandonment of small and large-scale
hydropower construction plans inside all national parks in particular; demands
to especially re-think the plans to build hydropower plants along the Vjosa
river and its tributaries, since these projects would harm one of Europe’s last
extensive, intact and near natural river ecosystems,” the amendment adds.

Meszerics’
colleague from the Greens group, Igor Šoltes, who presented the amendment
during the European Parliament foreign affairs commission’s hearing on
Albania’s resolution, underlined that the Lengarica project was the only one of
the 43 projected hydro projects on Vjosa under construction.

The hydro
plant poses a serious environmental risk to the Lengarica canyon, Balkan
Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) claimed in November. The plant is being
financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the commercial arm of
the World Bank, and is being built by Enso Hydro of Austria through a local
subsidiary – Lengarica & Energy.