Croatia: Energy company HEP continues with project HPP Ombla despite environment NGO protests

, SEE Energy News

Croatian Electric Power Industry (HEP) continues project of hydro power plant (HPP) Ombla, the project is continued according to the proceeding of the main impact assessment for the ecological network, in HEP expect that the necessary professional substrate will submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Nature in January next year and that by April 2015th could be known if the HPP Ombla is acceptable in relation to the environment protection and under which circumstances.

HEP has never abandoned the project of HPP Ombla or its implementation, and a new legal framework has decided to conduct additional adjustment of project documentation and national and European regulations on the environment protection and procedures of the ecological network, said HEP Director for investments Vedran Juric on Monday at a meeting with reporters.

Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection has published today on its website a decision according to which it is mandatory for the project HPP Ombla to carry out main assessment for the ecological network. The HPP Ombla, project of underground power plant of 68.50 megawatts (MW), is located in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which is part of the ecological network, area important for species and habitat types “Paleombla-Ombla”.

From HEP point out that since July this year it has been conducted a research project of cave habitats and the headwaters area of wider Dubrovnik area, and it is conducted by authorized institutions – Oikon, Institute for Applied Ecology and Geonatura, in consortium with the Croatian Natural History Museum.

It is the most comprehensive and most systematically research of the underground fauna in the cave and headwaters areas, not only in the area of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, but also in the field of Croatia and Dinarides. The project engages 20 researchers and more than 100 caves have been explored, collected more than 6,000 specimens of fauna, and the determination of collected fauna has been currently done by a team of 14 international experts, say in HEP and announce that the scientific expert and all interested public will be informed with the results of the research.

Main acceptability of the project assessment for the ecological network will analyze the impact of the project on the preservation of ecological networks and propose measures for the protection of nature and the mitigation measures on the ecological network.

In HEP predict that within this process the necessary professional background to the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection submitted in January next year. After that the Ministry will review and carry out the public hearings, if HPP Ombla is acceptable in relation to the environment protection and under which circumstances.

Specifically, they expect that by then it should made a decision on the terms of acceptability of the project on the ecological network, and that it would be the basis for HEP decisions on that investment.

If, however, the Ministry finds that the measures of protection and conservation are not enough, HEP can initiate the prevailing public interest and propose compensatory measures, explain in HEP.

In HEP believe that, after the decision on admissibility and decision to embark on the project, in a few months they could finish the project documentation. In this case, HPP Ombla could start in early 2016th, said Juric.

HEP signed a funding agreement for the project HPP Ombla in 2011th with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, but the contract was canceled in 2013th. The termination of this contract does not mean the abandonment of the project, only a change in the funding Juric explains, adding that HEP as part of its investment potential, will find a model for financing the project of HPP Ombla, investment estimated at 152MEUR.

In HEP repeat that the project of HPP Ombla is technically feasible and safe, economically viable and besides that they emphasize its importance for the improvement of water supply in the Dubrovnik area.