Croatia: EBRD financed HPP Ombla faces opposition of environmental organizations

, SEE Energy News

Construction of the Ombla plant would cause damage to “this important and protected habitat”, Croatia’s largest environmental non-governmental organisation Green Action said in a statement on Monday, citing the Environmental Protection Act and the European Union’s environmental legislation which Croatia will have to observe after it joins the EU on July 1.

About 40 civil society organisations from throughout Croatia and international organisations, including Friends of the Earth International, Bankwatch and Justice and Environment, have sent letters to Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Suma Chakrabarti, appealing that they abandon the plan for the construction of a harmful and expensive hydroelectric power plant on the Ombla river in the Dubrovnik area of southern Croatia.

Green Action says that the EBRD approved a loan for the project in November 2011, before it was appropriately assessed from the point of view of environmental protection, provided that the national power provider HEP carried out additional studies of biodiversity in a local cave system. The results of those studies now confirm that it is one of the most biodiverse habitats in Croatia.

The studies have shown that construction of the Ombla plant would have “long-term and irreversible consequences” for the local ecosystem and could permanently destroy a protected habitat that forms part of the future European ecological network Natura 2000 and the existing national ecological network. The studies have identified 68 species existing in the area, including as many as 14 endemic species in the cave system alone.

Green Action says that the project should be scrapped because it would bring no significant economic or social benefits.