Photo: N1 video screenshot | Protest in Prokuplje

In accordance with the current events in City of Prokuplje and other places in Serbia, where incidents occur due to justified civil resistance to the construction of SHPP, we point out that in December, 2020, the legal team of the Regulatory Institute for Renewable Energy and Environment (RERI), has submitted a request for termination construction permit issued (2015) to the investor – RASTING MV Ltd Belgrade for the construction of SHPP Rastovnica, which in the meantime ceased to be valid because the execution of works did not start within the legal deadline.

Through legal and research activities, RERI has identified a large number of illegalities during the issuance of construction permits for the construction of small hydropower plants throughout Serbia. The legal team of RERI submitted requests for the repetition of the procedure for issuing construction permits, ie the annulment of construction permits in Babušnica, Sokobanja, Pirot and Prokuplje. None of the competent authorities, including the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, acted upon the request. The silence of the competent authorities and the lack of an adequate reaction led to recent incidents in City of Prokuplje. On this occasion, we remind the public of the activities we carried out in order to protect the environment, and for which the authorities remained silent. Failure to act ex officio and non-cooperation of institutions in Prokuplje led to unrest and dissatisfaction of citizens. We appeal to the competent authorities to act in accordance with the law and contribute to the reduction of tensions in society, as well as the protection of the environment.

Namely, it happens that construction inspections do not go to the field to determine whether the construction has started within the legal deadline of two years. According to the provisions of the Law on Planning and Construction that were in force at the time of the Decision on the construction permit for SHPP Rastovnica, “the construction permit ceases to be valid if construction of the facility, ie execution of works, does not begin within 2 (two) years from the day of finality of the decision by which it was issued.”.

The same situation happened with the construction permit for the construction of SHPP Topli Dol 1 on the Rekitska river. Based on the report on the extraordinary inspection supervision and the findings and opinion of the expert, we determined that the works on SHPP Topli Dol 1 did not start within the legal deadline.

The situation is similar in the municipality of Sokobanja. Namely, the construction permit for SHPP Čitluk (which was put into operation in 2018) was issued in 2016, regardless of the fact that neither the competent local government nor the investor obtained the nature protection conditions, which are a mandatory part of the documentation for issuing construction permits. According to the report on collected and paid funds for the incentive of privileged electricity producers for 2018, the investor was paid 2.662.790,65 RSD.

Also, during the construction of SHPP “Zvonce” in Rakita, the derivation pipeline was placed in the riverbed, despite the explicit prohibitions of the competent authorities, which interrupted the natural flow of the Rakita River. At the same time, a landslide was started on the private plots of the inhabitants of the village of Zvonce. The works were carried out unhindered in 2018 and 2019, despite the bans of the inspection bodies, so the investor finally finished the facility.

These are just some of the cases that RERI has worked on in the previous period and the irregularities that were noticed during the analysis of these projects. Their realization is almost as a rule accompanied by systemic violations of regulations, neglect of the public interest and, unfortunately, complete absence or inadequate reaction of the competent authorities.

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RERI is the organization founded with the aim to achieve objectives related to promotion and improvement of rights to healthy and preserved environment, sustainable management of natural and renewable energy resources.
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