The Drina is the most important lifeline for the endangered Huchen (Hucho hucho). The species is particularly vulnerable to dam construction © Matic Oblak

In late May, the Banja Luka District Court cancelled the environmental permit for the planned 93 MW Buk Bijela hydropower plant on the river Drina in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the basis of a complaint submitted by the Aarhus Centar in 2018. The Drina is also the most important habitat of the endangered Danube Salmon, found only in some of the cleanest rivers in the Danube basin of southeast Europe.

The Neretva in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fate of many Balkan rivers depends on enviornmental standards of financiers. As so often: follow the money to find the bug. © A. Vorauer

As a result of public resistance to small-scale hydropower projects in the Balkans, and in consequence to the milestone bank summit between the financial sector and green activists on March 1st, the EBRD is considerably tightening its standards: the bank will ask commercial banks to refer all high-risk projects – including all hydropower plants – for additional checks, starting with 2020.

One hydropower plant on the Zirovnicka river inside Mavrovo NP has been cancelled, but more are planned. The fight continues. © Front 21/42

On May 14th 2019, the Government of Republic of North Macedonia decided to cancel the concession procedure for a low-performing hydropower project on the Zirovnicka river inside Mavrovo National Park, on the basis of a request for annulment, submitted by Blue Heart partner Front 21/42. The project was violating national and international law and undermined the protection status of the national park.

Sana river springs. Medna HPP is located just few hundred meters further © Majda Slámová / Arnika

The Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and Ecology of the Republic of Srpska has authorized initiatives on declaration of protected areas on the River Sana. The notion was submitted by environmentalists based on previous biological research. Regrettably, a hydropower plant was launched on the river last year. The new regulation will protect river’s springs and canyon.

Confluence of Sava and Krka rivers in Slovenia. The Sava river provides important habitat to fish species © Marko Zupančič

Recently, the Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia invalidated the environmental permit of the Mokrice HPP on Sava river. The projected hydropower plant cannot be constructed – for the time being, the Sava is safe. The lawsuit against the project was filed by the Slovenian Native fish Society (DPRS) in December 2018. In its recent decision, the Court pointed to a number of procedural and substantive irregularities.

The Doljanka river in Bosnia and Herzegovina is at risk. Sign the petition! © Anes Podic

The Doljanka River in Bosnia and Herzegovina needs your help! The former NBA Player Mirza Teletović is financing the destruction of the river in his home town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the local resistance. Public consultation of the local community was not carried out adequately, nor was there a proper environmental impact study. Please sign this petition to protect the Doljanka River from these destructive hydropower projects.

The Ribnicka is one of many small rivers in the Mavrovo National Park. The construction of the power plants and the necessary infrastructure would have fatal consequences for the species-rich area in North Macedonia. © Front 21/42

++ NGOs, government representatives, experts, hydropower developers and the local community discuss challenges and solutions at an international conference on nature protection and hydropower projects in North Macedonia ++ Yesterday, the first ever national approach for defining no-go zones for hydropower projects was presented at a conference in North Macedonia.

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