In the last two years, construction of hydro-power plants in the Balkans has gone up by 300% which causes concern about mountain rivers, flora and fauna being severely affected by this.
In terms of new power plants, Albania is at the forefront with 81 of them that are under construction, Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have 71 under construction each, while Serbia has another 800 energy projects in the pipeline.
The British daily ‘Guardian’ writes that about 2,800 new dams are now in the pipeline across a zone stretching from Slovenia to Greece, 37% of which are set to be built in protected areas such as national parks or Natura 2000 sites.
Heavy machinery is already channelling new water flows at 187 construction sites, compared to just 61 in 2015, according to the research by Fluvius, a consultancy for UN and EU-backed projects.
Ulrich Eichelmann, the director of the RiverWatch NGO, which commissioned the paper, said that the small-scale nature of most projects – often in mountainous terrain – was, counterintuitively, having a disastrous impact on nature.
“They divert water through pipelines away from the river and leave behind empty channels where rivers had been,” he told the Guardian. “It is a catastrophe for local people and for the environment. For many species of fish and insects like dragonflies and stoneflies, it is the end.”
Situation is pretty alarming in Albania where, since 2012, property conflicts between big energy companies and small farmers have led to one murder and an attempted murder, according to an EU-funded study. The paper logged three work-related deaths, and dozens of arrests linked to Albania’s wave of hydropower projects.
(021.rs, The Guardian, 27.11.2017)
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