Topolog River will not be destroyed

We have received some great news from WWF Romania about the campaign they are currently organizing: “Mountain Rivers – The last chance”. Through the voice of PR manager Ioana Betianu, we found out that Topolog River, which is a symbol for this action, has been saved from being affected by a hydroelectric project. In this case, work on the hydroelectric station was so advanced that the authorities had already completed a number of field studies and the project had been presented in the press as a certainty. Nevertheless, on December 10th 2013, in a case concerning a decision to continue the construction works on Topolog, the Environmental Protection Agency Vâlcea refused to support the project, thus rejecting it. Among the arguments raised, a very important element was the position taken by the administrator of the Nature 2000 site, that includes a sector of Topolog on which the project was to be built. He affirmed that the affected part belonged to an area of communitarian interest (ACI), created for the protection of certain fish species, lobsters and otters and for the preservation of habitats threatened by the expansion of human activities. WWF Romania also informs us that another successful part of this decision is the fact that for the first time since the approval for the project had been granted (2012), an environmental authority recognized the validity of this argument and applied it correctly.

 1The danger is far form over, because in Romania there are hundreds of micro-hydro electrical power stations that are now in various stages of authorization, construction or functioning, located near or inside protected areas. WWF gives us a concrete figure – 300 such stations are already authorized for operation without having passed through a strategic pre-planning phase which should be accomplished both at the basin level and at a national level.

It appears that thousands of kilometers of rivers in the mountains are now in the same dangerous situation as Topolog was a couple of days ago, and the competent authorities are not likely to approve at least the majority of these projects.

If you remember, this campaign was initially planned to last 4 weeks, ending on December 14th 2013. But because there is an acute need to correctly inform the citizens about this subject and the goal of gaining 100.000 signatures for giving the petition legal effects has not yet been reached, a decision was made to prolong the action. Citizens can still find information regarding the purpose of this campaign and we rely on the fact that all these actions will help them become more aware of the negative impact that the construction of micro-hydroelectric power stations has on the mountain rivers of their country. In addition, it is important for them to know that there are alternatives for sustainable development other than hydropower and that rivers can bring a host of other benefices even when they are not harnessed to generate electricity.

“The WWF petition is still available on the campaign website, and eagerly awaits more signatures so that our voice grows stronger and has more weight in the dialogue with the minister”. This is the slogan of WWF Romania, which we strongly support. This is how we will achieve the goals we have set for our campaign:

The designation of exclusion areas for the construction of micro-hydroelectric power stations on rivers with significant natural importance, which shall legally prevent the construction of such structures and the implementation of clear planning mechanisms for the rivers that are not included in such exclusion areas.

The issuing of an order by the minister for suspending the process of authorization, construction and functioning of new micro-hydroelectric power stations until the national planning process is implemented, in order to avoid other environmental disasters on Romanian rivers.

Changing the laws concerning the authorization, construction and functioning of new micro-hydroelectric power stations, in order to remedy the legal problems highlighted by WWF.

We would like to thank Miss Ioana Betianu, Communication Manager, and Mara Cazacu, Communication specialist – WWF Danube Carpathian Program, Romania, for the information provided and for their collaboration with Greenly Magazine.

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