A group of environmental organisations has halted the building of a 155-million-euro state-funded hydro-energy project that they said threatened to destroy wildlife in a national park in the Carpathians. The group has sued the country’s state-owned hydro-energy company and halted the project in the Jiu Gorge National Park in the Carpathians, which is listed as protected by the European Union.
“The Jiu Gorge, with its breathtaking scenery, with the last river crossing the Carpathians freely, with virgin forests that make up almost half of the forests on the slopes, is without doubt one of the most valued parts of the nation’s natural treasure,” said activist Calin Dejeu.
The Bumbesti-Livezeni Energy Complex was launched in 2003 in the Jiu Gorge National Park in Western Romania. It was made up of two hydro-plants, a dam and a seven-kilometre-long underground gallery.
The construction would have spread over 30 kilometres along the Jiu River, which is part of the EU’s Nature 2000 protected areas network.
Around 85 percent of the water would have been channelled through an underground system towards the turbines.
According to state-owned hydro-energy company Hidroelectrica, it was meant to generate 259 GWh per year, some 1.3 percent of the company’s capacity.
Romania’s energy system has been struggling for the past decade to modernise and generate more power, as its rundown infrastructure risks leaving parts of the country without power, particularly at times of crisis.
Dejeu, who also initiated a petition to save the national park in 2016, said the damage caused by building the complex’s facilities has already been done, but was much smaller than if the project had been fully completed.
Environmentalists argue that burying the river by using huge pipes with electricity-producing turbines would mean that there would not be enough remaining water for wildlife in the area to survive.
Two environmental NGOs, BankWatch and Neuerweg, first sued Hidroelectrica at the end of 2016.
Read more on these developments here, @BalkanInsight.