Press Release

Friends of Vjosa against the hydropower plants in Vjosa

New concession on Vjosa- Poçem HHP

Tirana February 5th, 2016 The “Friends of Vjosa” and “Protecting Rivers” groups and civil society activists protested today in front of the Pyramid in Tirana, to oppose the government’s decision for giving the concession of the Poçem hydropower plant in the Vjosa River.

ProtestIn the official bulletin of the National Public Procurement Agency was published on February 1st  the opening of proceedings for a 35-years concession on the construction of the Poçem hydropower plant, downstream of the Vjosa River. While previously, on July 29th 2015, the Government approved the unsolicited request from the Turkish company Çinar-San to build this HPP. This company has acquired the right to a bonus of 8%, even though it is a company with modest capacity and no experience in the construction and management of the hydropower plants, or energy in general.

During the electoral campaign for local elections on June 2015, the Prime Minister Rama has responded positively to the request of the residents of Vjosa Valley to declare the Vjosa National Park, promising that: “We will transform Vjosa Valley into a National Park to stop “barbarism” by hydropower plants and develop tourism, economy, agriculture, strengthen household economy by increasing the number of visitors to this great park of Vjosa.”

But apparently, the “barbarism” on the Vjosa River- the blue heart of Europe. Unfortunately continues to destroy irreversibly one of the most valuable national and European natural heritage.

This is an arbitrary decision ignoring the clear messages from the EU, community, experts and representatives of civil society in Albania and Europe,” says Olsi Nika, representative of EcoAlbania and coordinator of the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe .”

The battle for Vjosa River is only a national issue but also a European one, as a unique ecosystem in the entire continent.

The construction of Poçem HPP would kill the idea for the first Wild River National Park in Europe and it will undermine the economic development and the future of the Vjosa valley.

We demand today:

    1. The cancellation of all hydropower plant concessions that are planned or are under construction on the Vjosa River and its tributaries.

    1. The proclamation of the entire Vjosa Valley a National Park, which would be the first Wild River National Park in Europe and it support economic development of the entire valley.

  1. To be taken in consideration the demand for a 3-years moratorium on hydropower plants on the all Albanian rivers, which would give to the experts and decision-makers enough time to evaluate in a scientific and rational way the benefits and losses from the construction of these hydropower plants.
  2. The drafting of a National Master Plan that would define, the “go” and “non go” areas where the hydropower plants should or should not be built.