ACTIVE II

Civil society organizations react to the decision of the Parliamentary Committee on Economy and Finances

++ Proposals for amendments to the concession law and private public partnership are dropped ++

In the panel representatives of the Environmental organizations and legal experts. From the left: Nihat Dragoti – INCA, Elvana Tivari – legal expert, Olsi Nika – EcoAlbania, Irena Dule – legal expert, Res Publica, Xhemal Mato – Ecomovement (c) B. Guri / EcoAlbania

Tirana, March 15, 2019. A group of civil society organizations have reacted today about not approving some proposals for changes to the Concession Law. With a one-year commitment, EcoAlbania, in collaboration with national and local environmental organizations, environmental law experts, has taken the initiative to change the legal package of concessions for HPPs.

After numerous stakeholder consultations, at the beginning of February this year, they submitted their proposals for additions and amendments to Law no. 125/2013 “On concessions and public private partnership” with the parliamentary committees responsible for reviewing the draft law. The analysis was discussed at a special session in the Commission on Production, Trade and Environment, where some of the proposed points were taken into consideration. The Commission approved proposals regarding the identification of concession projects based on national plans and strategies as well as some details regarding the feasibility study. However, the Committee on Economy and Finances, as the responsible committee, did not approve any of them, without giving any concrete arguments.

Some of the main proposals are:

  1. Removing undeclared proposals as a widespread practice, which does not guarantee quality in the feasibility study as well as fair competition;
  2. Identification of potential concession projects / PPPs should be based on national, local and inter-sectoral sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies, plans or programs;
  3. Detail the feasibility study by exhausting all the parts that it should contain as part of it, such as: technical analysis, economic and financial analysis and environmental and social impacts;
  4. Inclusion in the concession fee, payment for the use of property owned by the state and/or private persons.

Today, organizations have once again stressed that the situation of HPPs in Albania is alarming, as more than 540 hydroelectric power plants are planned in the entire territory of Albania – a significant part of which (around 39%) in protected areas and potential areas of high nature values like the River Vjosa and its branches. “We have followed the legal ways to oppose HPP projects in the valley of Vjosa, Osumi, etc. and yet we think this would be an endless battle as the current legislation favors the issuance of new permits without applying the highest standards for environmental protection. So we think that some of our recommendations would change this situation for the benefit of nature and local communities, “said Olsi Nika, Director of EcoAlbania. This is also the case with the scanning of concession contracts for the construction of hydropower plants, which has recently started by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy. “The legal amendments proposed by us would solve the cracks and legal gaps for these concessions, thus avoiding unnecessary scanning processes in the future,” he added.

EcoAlbania will continue its efforts to follow the voice of environmental organizations, experts, local government representatives and residents affected by the development of hydro-energy projects.

This initiative was initiated by EcoAlbania under the project “ACTIV II – Community Engagement – Indicator of Decision Integration Integration” implemented by EcoAlbania in partnership with local organizations “Alliance of Albanian Alps” and “Argonaut” and funded by LëvizAlbania – for a strong local Democracy by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC.

 

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The initiative of the civil society for the Concession Law on HPPs amendments becomes official

++ EcoAlbania sends suggestions for amendments to the Law “On Concessions and Public Private Partnership” at the relevant Parliamentary Committees ++

Tirana, 4 February 2019. EcoAlbania has formally submitted the request for amendments to Law no. 125/2013 “On Concessions and Public Private Partnership”, sending the voice of several environmental organizations, experts, local government representatives and residents affected by the development of hydro-energy projects. 

Vjosa river (c) Roland Dorozhani

In the letter addressed to the Parliamentary Committee on Economy and Finance, the Committee on Productive Activities, Trade and Environment, and the Committee on Legal Affairs, Public Administration and Human Rights, EcoAlbania has expressed the concern and urgent need for intervention in the legal framework related to concessions, specifically to the permits of HPPs. Plans for the development of hydro-energy projects show that 540 hydropower plants are planned to be built throughout Albania, a significant part of which are in protected areas (around 61) and areas with high natural potential.

EcoAlbania has undertaken a thorough analysis of the plans, strategies and national legislation of the energy, tourism, environment and water sectors, evaluating their approximation with EU legislation. “Observing and studying the practical implementation of the complex legal framework regulating concessionary procedures in the hydropower sector has resulted in a number of problems in the implementation of these procedures by public authorities. At the root of most of the problems, there are many gaps and conflicts in the actual legal framework that completely regulates the procedures for hydro power concessions”, said Olsi Nika, Executive Director of EcoAlbania.

This analysis was concluded with findings and recommendations for concrete changes in Law no. 125/2013 “On concessions and public private partnership” as amended, and other laws that interact in the field of hydro power concessions. Specifically, the document contains proposals for additions and changes to the laws:

  1. Law no. 125/2013 “On concessions and private public partnership”, as amended;
  2. Law no.10440, dated 07.07.2011 “On the assessment of the impact on the environment”;
  3. Law no. 10 448, dated 14.07.2011 “On environmental permits”;
  4. Law no. 111/2012 “On Integrated Management of Water Resources”, as amended.

Findings and recommendations for changes have been consulted with local communities, Civil Society Organizations, local institutions and other stakeholders interested in local forums organized by EcoAlbania.

EcoAlbania and the team of experts aim at discussing them in the respective Parliamentary Committees and promoting legal changes in terms of improving the legislation on HPP concessions in Albania.

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In accordance with its mission, EcoAlbania is committed to promoting the civil society initiative to improve the legislation on HPP concessions in Albania. This commitment aims to increase active public participation in decision-making regarding sustainable use of natural resources and is implemented within the AKTIV II project with the financial support of LëvizAlbania.

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The second local forum in the framework of encouragement of civic environmental law initiative took place in Tepelenë

Following the lobbying and advocacy activity to improve the legislation on HPP concessions in Albania, EcoAlbania continued with the organization of the local forums.

During the meeting with local environmental organizations, environmental experts, representatives of local authoritis in Tepelenë © V. Kabili

During the meeting with local environmental organizations, environmental experts, representatives of local authoritis in Tepelenë © V. Kabili

On 23 June 2018, the second meeting took place in Tepelenë, with participants from local environmental organizations, environmental experts, representatives of the Municipalities of Tepelena and Memaliaj, RDE of  Gjirokastra, representatives of Prefecture of Gjirokastra County, journalists, etc. Environmental and legal policy experts followed up with the draft of the analysis of the plans, strategies and national legislation of the energy, tourism, environment and water sectors, in the spirit of their approximation with EU legislation.

 “No public authority should announce a concession contest without ensuring that the object of the race is in compliance with national plans and strategies,” said E. Tivari, the legal expert, adding that the law should provide guarantees in this regard. Further, she also emphasized the importance of specifying the elements that the concession fees should contain, such as the charge for the use of natural resources by the concession company.

Discussions followed between experts and the local participants © V. Kabili

Discussions followed between experts and the local participants © V. Kabili

Meanwhile, one of the concerns raised by the participants dealt with the future of these hydropower projects after the end of the concession period. According to them, there should be a specific legal provision that forces state authorities to consult with the local community regarding the decision-making on the future of a hydro power plant after the end of the term of  the concession contract.

The Tepelena Forum will be followed by three other round tables to be held in Shkodra, Prrenjas and the national one in Tirana. Recommendations that will come from experts, CSOs and institutions will be reviewed and included in the final draft of recommendations for amendments to concession legislation for HPPs.

This meeting is organized in the framework of the project “ACTIVE II – Community Engagement – Indicator of Integration in Decision-making”, that is being implemented by EcoAlbania in partnership with local NGO’s Alliance of Albanian Alps and Argonaut. It is funded by LëvizAlbania – for a strong local democracy by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC.

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