The Administrative Court of Appeal of Tirana gives reason to the inhabitants of Tropoja and of the non-profit association "Toka" in defense of the Valbona valley, where the project concerning the construction of eight hydroelectric power plants is already underway.
The verdict was issued by the judicial body headed by Rilinda Selimi, which the 6 June has considered the joint request of 27 residents of Margegaj - part of the municipality of Tropoja - of representatives of different villages in the area of Valbona and of the association 'Clasp', deciding for the suspension of the works of the power stations in the area. The lawsuit was filed about three months ago, at the beginning of March.
It is an almost historic event since it was one of the very rare cases in which the 'black togas' sided with the citizens and civil society, to protect the areas designated as natural resources and parks; specifically the Valbona river and the entire surrounding area.
The Valbona area, in fact, falls within the protected areas of Albania but, despite this, the residents have had to publicly, legally and with numerous protests, denounce the hydroelectric power plant project led by Dragobia Energy and Gener 2. On several occasions, residents and associations involved declared that their purpose was exclusively the conservation and protection of the natural area of the Albanian Alps.
The danger of power plants
There is a lot at stake and experts have confirmed their concerns. A recent study revealed that 49 European freshwater species would become extinct or lose between the 50 and 100% of their distribution in the Balkans due to cumulative hydropower projects in the region.
The proliferation of hydroelectric energy should also consider climate change: south-eastern Europe has faced severe droughts last year, causing energy crises, due to the lack of water resources that have undermined electricity production in hydroelectric power plants. However, the number of small hydropower plants has increased steadily, despite the risks.
The various complaints and protests were an appeal to decision makers to stop the construction of hydroelectric power plants in the National Park, to allow legal appeals to proceed in order to protect the river, the unique ecosystem it supports and the local community that lives inside the park. Legal appeals that, for once, gave reason to civil society.
- The Valbona river sheds its last tears in Piazza Scanderbeg , 08 June 2018
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