The government ignores everyone – signs the contract for the construction of the Poçem HPP

Press release from Ecoalbania

Tirana, on 01.11.2016. The Ministry of Energy has published the announcement about the signing of the contract with the Turkish company “Kovlu Energy”, giving it the right to build the Poçem hydroelectric plant. This decision goes against the demands of the residents of the Vjosa valley, national and international organizations, the European Union and many scientists who have requested a 3-year moratorium regarding the construction of HPPs in Vjosa.

The entire process of granting the Poçem HPP concession is a product of the current Government. It is about a secret process, not transparent and in violation of the Albanian legislation in force as well as in complete disregard of the recommendations of the EP. The winner of the tender for this hydropower plant was announced by the consortium “Çinar San” and “Ayen Enerji” in an announcement made public by the Ministry of Energy, in May 2016. Meanwhile, the concession contract was concluded with another Turkish company.

Vjosa River, near Poçem. (c) R. Dorozhani

The winning company has presented the environmental impact assessment report, part of which is the public hearing, which according to official documents was carried out in February 2015 in Fier. None of the residents affected by the construction of this HPP or the local government units have become part of this process. “As the mayor, I have not been made aware of whether an agreement was made and if so, with whom? What is predicted? What will be the impacts and what will happen to the residents?” said Përparim Shametaj, the mayor of Selenica Municipality.

EcoAlbania has created a working group with foreign and national experts to assess the quality of the EIA report, and so far it can be said that this report is unprofessional, unscientific and not at all realistic.

On the other hand, Vjosa also has special international attention as it is considered a treasure of the European natural heritage. In this way, after many debates and recommendations from the EP, the European Commission is taking the necessary steps to draft a regional Master Plan regarding the construction of HPPs, which is expected to be finalized in the summer of next year at the fourth consultative meeting that will take place in Rome. “We, together with our international colleagues, have been lobbying the EU institutions for more than 4 years to stop this uncontrolled wave of HPP construction. The Albanian government should look for other alternatives for obtaining energy by finally stop this unnecessary aggression towards nature” said Olsi Nika from EcoAlbania.

Based on the current situation in the Balkan countries during the last meeting in Brussels, environmental NGOs have signed a position letter addressed to Commissioner Han on the urgent need to clearly define “prohibited areas” for HPP construction. Vjosa is considered to be the last natural river in Europe, which is undoubtedly one of these prohibited areas for the construction of HPPs.

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