Posted on 09 August 2013
Across Central and Eastern Europe, WWF is concerned with projects also in Austria, Bulgaria and Romania
Regional self-governance authority of Ivano-Frankivsk region in Ukraine decided to recognize as unacceptable the design, approval construction and operation of diversion small hydropower plants in the mountain rivers in their province.
“This is the result of a joint campaign by WWF and a coalition of Ukrainian NGOs to protect all rivers which are important for biodiversity and water safety in the Ukrainian Carpathians, including Ivano-Frankivsk region”, said Anatoliy Pavelko, WWF’s Hydropower Campaigner.
The decision of Ivano-Frankivsk regional council is not mandatory for the operators of hydropower plants, but it expresses the opinion of the self-governance authority of the region.
There are about 150 planned hydropower plants in the area. “While there is a general perception that small hydropower is green renewable energy, this is not necessarily the case. Many plants are to be built in ecologically sensitive areas destroying river dynamics and habitats for rare and endangered species. They also affect the ecosystem services - the processes by which nature produces resources that we often take for granted such as clean water, habitat for fisheries or tourism, to name but a few”, explained Diana Popa, WWF’s Regional Policy Project Manager.
One of the big projects in the Ukrainian Carpathians is the Goloshyno hydropower cascade, which includes both a dam and a diversion plant. “It is planned on Biliy Cheremosh River, a habitat for many rare and endangered species included in the Red Book of Ukraine such as Danube salmon (Hucho hucho) and grayling (Thymallus thymallus). There are two national parks near the hydropower plant, but only weak environmental impact assessments of the projects have been conducted. Moreover, the river was supposed to be officially declared protected by the government”, explained Anatoliy Pavelko.
There are 22 permits already issued for hydropower plants in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. Many of them are on rivers which are important for biodiversity protection.
Five hydropower plants are now working in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. Two of them are restored old ones which have not been used for 40 years. The others are newly constructed. Their existence cannot be deemed appropriate from environmental point of view as they lack fish passes or have inefficient ones and during dry season all water is diverted from the river bed into a pipe.
Across Central and Eastern Europe, WWF is fighting against a megalomaniac hydropower project in Kaunertal in Tyrol in Austria, and against small hydropower affecting Natura 2000 species and habitats in the Romanian Carpathians and the Bulgarian tributaries of the Danube River.