Failure of dam project a victory for civil society and nature in Montenegro



Posted on 17 October 2011  | 
Morača river, Montenegro
© © Jon Bjartnes / WWF-Canon Enlarge
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Podgorica, Montenegro - Not a single investor expressed interest in the tender for the construction of a series of hydropower plants on the river Morača and the project is currently on hold. For WWF and Green Home this is a clear signal that the Montenegrin government needs to turn towards sustainable energy solutions, which will be in the best interests of the Montenegrin economy, people and nature.

“The case of the Morača dams shows that civil society can play an important role in decision-making processes. The fact that nobody applied for the tender is an important milestone for Montenegrin civil society. WWF will continue supporting efforts towards more sustainable energy choices in the country and the region,” said Francesca Antonelli, Head of the Freshwater Programme at WWF Mediterranean.

“The result of the tender is not surprising since civil society organizations and numerous local experts have been warning the Government since 2007 of the probable outcome of this tender. The project of dams on the Morača, as it was designed by the Government of Montenegro, is not cost effective due to its huge environmental and economic risks,” added Darko Pajović, Head of WWF’s partner NGO in Montenegro, Green Home.

For 3 years WWF and Green Home have urged the government of Montenegro to review its plans for the construction of four dams on the Morača River, and to find more sustainable solutions for the energy needs of the country.

The Montenegrin government also received several calls from EU institutions and EU representatives to adopt transparent and cautious approaches when developing hydropower. The latest came on October 4th from the Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, which urges the government to “prevent the potentially negative environmental impacts of plans to build a series of hydro-power plants on the Morača river, and to engage in public consultations with civil society organisations and the local populations concerned prior to taking a final decision on these plants.”

WWF and Green Home are hoping that the lack of investors’ interest is a strong enough signal for the Montenegrin government to fully withdraw from the plan of major energy projects on the river Morača. Both organizations will continue to encourage the Montenegrin government to look to the sustainable production of electricity and come up with solutions that will reconcile economic development and environmental protection.

About the Morača River
The Morača River, provides two thirds of the flows into Lake Skadar, the biggest lake in the Balkans and one of the most important bird and fish habitats in the Mediterranean region, providing more than 90% of fish consumed in Montenegro. Lake Skadar, listed under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international significance, is one of Europe's five most important wintering sites for birds. Very rare endemic species of trout could disappear, and the fishery of Lake Skadar could shrink by 30% – with a loss of some €1.5 million in annual fishing revenues.

For further info: Chantal MENARD, +39 346 235 7481 – cmenard@wwfmedpo.org

Morača river, Montenegro
© © Jon Bjartnes / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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