++ NGOs file complaint against Albania ++ Hydropower projects on Vjosa river clearly breach Energy Community rules ++
Tirana, Radolfzell, Vienna, February 26th, 2019. Today, the Energy Community Secretariat received a complaint against the Albanian Government. EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur – the three organisations behind the campaign for the protection of the Vjosa River in Albania–have raised concerns about the procedures for the Kalivaç and Poçem hydropower projects(HPP)not being in line with Energy Community rules.
This is the first time a complaint has been filed with the Energy Community regarding hydropower developments in Albania. The complaint addresses violations of the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) related to the hydropower projects Kalivaç and Poçem. The EIA Directive is an integral part ofthe Energy Community’s regulatory framework.Furthermore, both the company and public authorities failed to meet public consultation requirements. The complaint is emphasizing the evident infringements of Energy Community rules.
“This is another step in our long fight against the hydropower projects on the Vjosa River. We are convinced that the Albanian Government is breaking not only Albanian law but also its commitment to the Energy Community. The hydropower projects ‘Kalivaç’ and ‘Poçem’ are not even economically viable, as social and environmental costs are underestimated”, says Olsi Nika from EcoAlbania.
“We expect the Energy Community to start an infringement procedure against Albania within the next six months. If this is the case, the dam projects would have to be stopped”, says Ulrich Eichelmannfrom Riverwatch.
Albanian Rivers are part ofthe “Blue Heart of Europe” and, as such, they represent the unimpaired natural heritage of this continent. The Vjosa in Albania is the crown of these rivers. She is the last remaining big and free-flowing river in Europe, outside Russia. “The Vjosa and her tributaries are without par in Europe: there is no river network like this left on the continent. It needs to be protected and must not be destroyed by hydropower plants”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur.
Since 2006, Albania is part of the Energy Community – an international organisation consisting of the EU, represented by the European Commission, and Southeastern European countries. It aims to extend the EU’s internal energy market to Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region. As a member of the Treaty,Albania is obliged to fulfill the Energy Community’s rules, including the European Union’s EIA Directive (Directive 2011/92/EU).
The campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” aims to protect the most valuable rivers in the Balkans from a tsunami of about 2,800 dam projects. The campaign is coordinated by the NGOs RiverWatch and EuroNatur and carried out together with local partner organisations like EcoAlbania.