Well-known scientists confirm: the environmental assessment for the Poçem hydropower plant in Vjosa is a farce

blue-heart-logo_transparent-e1468935886416Press release from Riverwatch, EuroNatur and EcoAlbania

1.Vjosa lumi i fundit i egër në Evropë- merr mbështetje nga shkencëtarët ndërkombëtar © Gregor Subic
Vjosa, the last wild river in Europe – receives support from international scientists. (c) G. Subic

++The scientists’ analysis has been sent to the Prime Minister, Rama.

Tirana, December 21, 2016. Before the 2016 year-end holidays, Prime Minister Edi Rama and other government representatives received a letter from well-known scientists from Austria and Germany. They have analyzed the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA) for the Pocem hydropower plant on the Vjosa River. The EIA report proves that the project is in harmony with nature. However, according to scientists, this EIA is a farce and does not meet eventhe minimum standards, so it is not appropriate to predict the environmental impact of this hydropower plant. With this criticism, the scientists support the argumentation and concern of their colleagues from the University of Tirana. The Austrian environmental organization Riverwatch, the German EuroNatur and the Albanian EcoAlbania have previously criticized the quality of the EIA and are now being vindicated by the latest analysis by scientists.

In particular, scientists emphasize that:

  • Flora and fauna have not been assessed and data on endangered species have not been collected.
  • 60% of the EIA text is copied from other documents and in some parts it refers to a completely different geographical area.
  • The processes of hydrology, morphology and ecology have not been evaluated
  • 2
    Scientists from Albania, Austria and Germany in Vjosa. From left to right: Prof. Sajmir Beqiraj, Prof. Friedrich Schiemer, Dr. Martin Pusch, Prof. Aleko Miho, Dr. Robert Konecny, Prof. Lefter Straw. (c) EuroNatur

    possible long-term impacts are not mentioned at all.

    In the letter addressed to the Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Minister of Energy Damjan Gjiknuri and the Minister of the Environment Lefter Koka, the international experts ask the government representatives to cancel this EIA and on the other hand to facilitate a proper assessment according to the European standards.

    “This EIA report does not allow in any way to make a reliable prediction regarding the impacts on biodiversity, the conditions of the underground water, as well as the consequences for the residents. It is nothing more than a mixture of other reports,” says Dr. Martin Pusch from the Leibniz Institute of Aquatic Ecology and Fisheries in Germany.

    According to the authors of the EIA, the Pocem hydropower plant project is in accordance with the highest international standards. “The positive and negative impacts of the proposed project have been identified and calculated. (…) The entire project is in full compliance with the best international standards, and this increases the level of safety at work during the operation phase to a reasonable degree “, is written in the EIA.

    While scientists strongly oppose this position: the EIA conclusions are not based on comprehensible data. Unfortunately, the presented EIA does not meet the international standards and in fact presents more of a caricature of an EIA, than a basis for a serious decision”, so say the experts in the analysis.

    It is not about supporting or opposing the project, but more about the fact that good policies require proper and understandable planning as a basis for making decisions. In a river of such great international importance the highest possible legal standards must be followed. We are always ready to support Albanian institutions to implement a proper EIA”, says Prof. Friedrich Schiemer from the University of Vienna.

    Additional information:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment: In general, an EIA aims to assess the mid-term and long-term impacts of a project on nature and affected residents. This requires a study in the area, assessment of plant and animal populations, assessment of groundwater, hydro-morphological processes, or the amount of inerts and sand that Vjosa transports in that area. As a basis for these assessments, the impact predictions of the planned hydropower project and above all an assessment regarding its environmental compatibility should be made. The EU has established criteria regarding the implementation of an EIA, which the Albanian legislation has also defined.
  • Vjosa is the last wild river in Europe. It flows untouched through deep gorges, marshes and islands for about 270 km from the Pindi Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. The Albanian government and Prime Minister Edi Rama has given the green light to the Turkish company for the construction of the Pocem hydropower plant, which is planned to be built in the most ecologically rich part of the Vjosa river.
  • The “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign aims to protect the rivers with the greatest natural values in the Balkan peninsula. The campaign is coordinated by the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur in cooperation with partner organizations in the Balkan countries.




Ulrich Eichelmann – Riverwatch: [email protected]

Angie Rother – EuroNatur: [email protected]

Besjana Guri – EcoAlbania:  [email protected]

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