About 150 environmental activists and residents from all over the Vjosa valley joined the Bënça community on 29th of April 2015, to protest against the construction of hydropower plants, in one of its most impressive tributaries. The massive protest held in Bënça was supported by residents of Bënça, Tepelena, Përmeti, Selenica, Qesarati, Krasa, Vlora, Gjirokastra and many students from Tirana.
The residents and the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign were supported by the deputy Valentina Leskaj who wrote a letter addressed to the Minister of Energy requesting information about the plans of the Ministry of the Energy and Industry to the Vjosa river.
A total of 31 HPPs are planned along the Vjosa and its tributaries, currently 4 plants are being built, two of them exactly in Bënça river. The water of the Bence – one of the most beautiful and ecologically most valuable rivers in Albania – is to be diverted into pipelines in order to generate electricity. The residents of the valley have been protesting the construction of this project for years.
The residents of Bënça have been protesting for more than two years against the construction of hydroelectric plants in this valley. They have been requesting to the responsible authorities explanations about what is being done to their river… but they have not received any concrete response.
Due to the awareness campaign carried out by EcoAlbania through the Vjosa tour meetings along all the valley, the residents are already aware of what is at risk to lose and are concerned about their future in this valley and have embraced the idea of the first Riverine National Park.
This National Park proposed by EcoAlbania and its international partners, RiverWatch and EuroNatur is the best alternative to preserve the last “wild” river of Europe and at the same time to ensure a sustainable economic development of the area.
The campaign to protect the Vjosa River is part of the international campaign to save the most valuable rivers on the Balkan Peninsula. More than 630 new hydropower plants are currently projected between Slovenia to Albania. In order to counteract this spate of destruction, “EuroNatur” and “RiverWatch” have launched the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign in cooperation with local partner in the respective Balkan countries.
By Besjana Guri/ EcoAlbania