EP Vice-President: Don’t Build Hydropower Plants in Vjosa

In a meeting with Albanian journalists in Brussels, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek explicitly stated the reservations of the European Parliament toward the construction of hydropower plants in the river Vjosa, the last free-flowing river in Europe: “Buid other hydropower plants, by please leave the Vjosa alone.”

Vice-President Lunacek also stated that she had communicated the EP’s position to Prime Minister Edi Rama.

She made her remarks in reference to a recent project approved by the Rama Government for a hydropower plant in Poçem, an unrequested proposal by a small Turksish company, Çinar-San Hafriyat Nakliyat Inşaat Turizm Sanayi Ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi. Lunacek was skeptical whether the environmental assessment had been conducted properly:

Before each project it is very important to make an environmental assessment. But there is no clear study to evaluate which flora and fauna there are in that zone.

Meanwhile, another hydropower plant project in the Vjosa, at Kalivaç, has been suspended because of a legal battle between the government and the construction company.

Both the European Parliament and the European Commission have been against the construction of hydropower plants in Vjosa, as well as environmental activists both local and international.

In the minutes of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement Subcommittee Meeting on Transport, Energy, Environment and Regional Development between the EU and Albania, in the possession of Exit, it appears that EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin had sent a letter to Prime Minister Rama regarding hydropower plants in the Vjosa, and their possible negative impact on EU investments worth €16 million.

The minutes also note that:

The EU delegation noted that the Environment Ministry seems to lack administrative capacities and that Environmental Impact Assessments in Albania have a poor track record. […] Transparency and open consultations are lacking. […] The Albanian delegation replied that there only four persons work on the issue [of assessing new hydropower plants]: two engineers and two legal advisors.