WWF - Croatia, Bosnia hydro power warning

2012-07-24 16:55

Zagreb - Conservation group WWF warned Croatia and Bosnia they risked harming wildlife and farm output by building planned hydro power schemes in their southern regions without proper research and said it would notify EU officials and potential investors.

Croatia and representatives of the Bosnian autonomous Serb Republic agreed this month to jointly build a 300MW hydroelectric plant on Bosnia's Trebisnjica river near the Croatian Adriatic coast city of Dubrovnik.

The plant is part of a wider project that includes several plants and underground tunnels on Bosnian territory in the Dubrovnik hinterland.

"There is no comprehensive environmental study which we think is indispensable for those energy infrastructure plans to continue," Irma Popovic Dujmovic, from the WWF's Croatian branch, said on Tuesday.

She said that such a project could endanger wildlife and agricultural production in the delta of the Neretva river, which flows from Bosnia into the Adriatic sea.

The WWF will contact European Union officials and potential investors to warn them about the harm the project may cause.

The Neretva delta gets water from sensitive karst terrain and the WWF says that any diversion of water flows in the area, which is part of the plans, would increase its salinity.

This would threaten wildlife in the surrounding marshland as well as the livelihoods of some 20 000 people who grow mandarin oranges, the organisation says.

"Croatia and Bosnia do not have enough funds to implement those plans by themselves and that's why we are counting on investors to heed the problem," Popovic Dujmovic said.

Croatia, which is due to join the EU in July 2013, is preparing for a major energy infrastructure investment cycle worth up to €2bn per year in the next seven years, to cut dependence on energy imports.

Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Cacic, the main champion of the plans, says Croatia will respect the environment.

The plans around Dubrovnik include two new hydropower plants and the WWF objections refer to both. The government intends to publish tenders for their financing and construction later this year.