Activists win battle, not war, against hydropower in the Western Balkans

Vjosa river in Albania [Shutterstock/Michaela Klenkova] Green lawmakers have hailed the cancellation of a hydropower plant in Albania but now fear that a forthcoming EU investment package for the wider region will promote small hydropower, which activists blame for destroying ecosystems. The announcement was made by Albanian prime minister Edi Rama on Twitter more than a week ago: no hydropower plant will be built on lower Vjosa, one of the last wild rivers in Europe. Green lawmakers in the European Parliament hailed the decision, saying it “will have an invaluable impact on the environment and biodiversity around one of Europe’s last free flowing rivers”. But activists now fear an investment plan for the Western Balkans, due to be presented on Tuesday (6 October), will offer little funding for renewable energy projects other than hydropower, despite earlier pledges from the European Commission to give green and digital projects “a central role in relaunching and modernising the economies of the Western Balkans.” The EU’s enlargement and neighbourhood commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi, has previously said that EU investments in the regions will support connections in the field of energy, transport and the green agenda in order to bring the region “as close as […]

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