23.01.2017. - After more than 5 years of environmental battle EBRD canceled HPP “Boskov Most”

The “Boskov Most” project is located within one of the oldest and most diverse national parks in Europe, a Key Biodiversity Area and core area for protection of Europe’s large mammals, among which is the elusive and critically endangered Balkan Lynx, of which less than 40 mature individuals are believed to remain in wild. Besides the initial expression of concern by the national and international nature conservation organizations, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved the support of „Boskov Most“ in November 2011, before the Environmental Impact Assessment process on national level was even completed.

Immediately after the approval of the loan, we submitted a complaint to the Project Complaint Mechanism (PCM) of the EBRD for the Boskov Most project, which was assessed as “eligible” in 2012. In 2013, the independent PCM expert issued a report [1] which confirmed that the Bank did breech its own environmental procedures when it approved the Boskov Most HPP project – explained Ana Colovic Lesoska from Eko-svest.

Legal issues were noted even with the national EIA permit and procedure. In 2015 the Macedonia Administrative court decision stated that the Macedonian Ministry of Environment had granted the license back in 2012 on the basis of an inadequate and incomplete environmental impact assessment and has therefore violated existing national environmental law. Meanwhile, the World Bank was still considering support to “Lukovo Pole” project stated Aleksandra Bujaroska from Front 21/42.

In early 2013, the environmental groups submitted a complaint to the Bern Convention Secretariat, claiming that if the Macedonian Government continues with the hydro development plans, it will violate the principles of this international convention. In 2015 the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention recommend suspension of all governmental projects, especially the HPPs foreseen, until SEA report for the cumulative impact of all development projects is conducted. “Now that the Standing committee has asked for such assessment as well, we have hopes that the real risks for the Park will be finally exposed. It is much more than “Mavrovo” and its values that is at stake here – if such intensive development can be planned in category II protected area, what can we expect for the sites that are protected in lower categories, or are not protected at all, but are recognized as being of outstanding natural values? The nature conservation in Macedonia needs to be taken into account much more seriously than it is presently a case, says Metodija Velevski of the Macedonian Ecological Society.

At the moment Macedonian Government suspended the implementation only on the projects that were financed by international financial institutions (including HPP Boskov Most). However, the implementation of the HPPs by private investors continued. Two of these HPPs are already built and, two HPPs are under construction. Another four HPPs are currently “in the pipeline”, meaning their construction could start anytime, as concessions have been provided to investors and environmental studies are approved. These studies lack a detailed description of the state of habitats and species and a review of their vulnerability. All 4 HPPs in pipe line since 2016 are subject to complaints on national instance. However, the Macedonian Government is determined that “damming” a National Park is feasible and justifiable as crucial for the hydropower development in the Country. This makes the need of reassessment of the Hydropower development in the Country even more urgent.

More info:

Aleksandra Bujaroska
Front 21/42

Ana Colovik Lesoska