WWF, Green Home cautiously welcome Montenegro dams rethink



Posted on 04 August 2010  | 
The Tara River, Montenegro
© Michel Gunther/WWF-CanonEnlarge
Rome, Italy –WWF and Green Home, its partner NGO in Montenegro, today welcomed the Montenegrin government’s decision to call off the original plans for four dams on the Morača River, which would have affected several protected areas.

Both organizations welcomed a public debate about the idea to build the dams that also was announced, but warned they will remain alert on the issue, especially regarding any potential transfer of the nearby Tara River, which runs through the Tara Canyon – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“We are happy to see that alternative solutions will be sought to the initial plan,” said Francesca Antonelli, Head of the Freshwater Programme at WWF Mediterranean. “Our voice and the one of the citizens was heard. The economic un-sustainability and environmental impact of the original plan were finally accepted by the government and this is a sign of responsibility.”

WWF and Green Home had expressed very strong concerns on the plan proposed in February this year by the Montenegrin government to build four dams on the Morača River because they would destroy important biodiversity areas – so-called Emerald sites that will become the country’s future Natura 2000 sites once Montenegro joins the European Union) – and impact one of the most important bird and fish habitats in the Mediterranean region..

The dams also would have hurt fisheries in the area, by wiping out endemic trout species and a jewel of Montenegro.The economic profitability of the project also was questionable, according to WWF and Green Home.

“We are ready to assess the new Strategic Environmental Assessment and the revised spatial plan as announced by the Ministry of Environment in a press conference last week,” said Darko Pajovič, Head of Green Home. “We are waiting for the new documents to be published (revised SEA, revised spatial plan) and we will be there to make sure that the new plans are not environmentally impacting.”

WWF and Green Home also expressed concern about the public statement made by the Ministry of Economy advocating for a diversion of the Tara River.

“This will take us to watch very carefully the process of revising the plans. Tara is protected under the UNESCO heritage list and as a consequence any potentially impacting structure cannot be built”, Pajovič said.

“WWF and Green Home remain fully available for consultation, and in particular regarding the question of mitigation measures to ensure that the river is provided with minimum guaranteed amounts water for the environment (this is known as environmental flows). But, we would like also to take the chance to recall, as we did in the occasion of the consultations of the National Energy Strategy and of the Strategic environmental Assessment, to pay attention to alternatives to hydropower energy, like increasing energy efficiency, refurbishing obsolete plants and investing in controlling the energy demand.”, Antonelli said.
The Tara River, Montenegro
© Michel Gunther/WWF-Canon Enlarge

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