EC starts an infringement procedure against Romania on small hydropower

Posted on June, 11 2015

The projects are located in Fagaras Mountains
The European Commission (EC) has started a new infringement procedure against Romania because of small hydropower projects in protected areas on the Dejani-Lupsa and Vistisoara rivers in Fagaras Mountains.

There is also information that the infringement also targets other destructive projects located on the South side of the Fagaras Mountains, on Capra and Buda rivers.

WWF filed two official notifications to the EC, warning over a series of violations of the European and national legislation on water and biodiversity a year and a half ago. All cases are connected with the authorization and placement of small hydropower in protected sites of the European network Natura 2000.

Unfortunately, there are other projects that have been illegally approved on the Alb river in Retezat Mountains and Bistra Marului, Sucu and Olteana rivers in Tarcu Mountains.

WWF calls the Romanian Ministry of Environment to urgently intervene in these cases.

WWF and the Natura 2000 Coalition of Romanian NGOs reported many irregularities, both through written complaints and in dedicated meetings, but their position and recommendations were ignored.

Small hydropower fragments river habitats, affecting both fish migration for spawning and the rich river fauna. Forests by the rivers are also destroyed even though they shelter many rare birds and species.

Still, small hydropower is promoted as a source of green energy despite its negative effects on river ecosystems.

In 2013 WWF launched a public campaign to save the most valuable Romanian rivers, including the designation of No-Go areas for the construction of small hydropower. A petition to the government was signed by more than 20,000 Romanians and it committed to prepare a bill on hydropower production in line with the EU legislation on nature conservation.

Across Central and Eastern Europe, WWF is fighting against small hydropower affecting Natura 2000 species and habitats on the Bulgarian tributaries of the Danube River and also in the Ukrainian Carpathians.
One of the small hydropower projects in Tarcu Mountains
© WWF-România
Another small hydropower project in Tarcu Mountains, which part of the EU’s protected areas network Natura 2000
© WWF-România