Council of State approves controversial hydroelectric plant in Turkish Black Sea port

Council of State approves controversial hydroelectric plant in Turkish Black Sea port

İdris Emen – ARTVİN
Council of State approves controversial hydroelectric plant in Turkish Black Sea port Turkey’s Council of State has reversed a local court’s decision to annul an environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report approving the construction of a hydroelectric power plant (HES) in the center of the Black Sea port of Arhavi in Artvin province. The reversal means that construction of the controversial plant will now go ahead. 

The first positive ÇED report for the plant was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning in 2012. At the time, locals appealed to a court in Artvin, arguing that the conclusions in the ÇED report - which concluded that the Kapisre River would not be affected by the projects - were mistaken. 

Unlike the report, Arhavi locals are concerned that the new plant will dry up the river. 

In a landmark decision issued on Aug. 21, 2014, the administrative court in Rize agreed with the complainants and emphasized that eight other hydroelectric plants had already been built on the Kapisre River – too many to preserve an ecological balance. 

The court also said the report should contain details on the potential impact of the use of explosives in the area and should clearly indicate the date of the explosions and their magnitude. It also said the numbers of trees that would be cut should be clearly calculated, while waste storage areas should be adequately chosen.
However, a second positive ÇED report was subsequently issued in 2015, leading local opponents to again appeal to a court, which – once again - annulled the report.

This time, the ministry appealed to the Council of State to reverse the local court’s judgment.

The Council of State ruled in favor of the ministry, saying the positive report was prepared in line with the law and the local court’s decision was “imprecise.”

A member of the Arhavi Platform for the Protection of Nature, Hasan Sıtkı Özkazanç, slammed the decision permitting the plant, which is set to be constructed in the center of a town for the first time, describing it as “unlawful.”

“We perceive the Council of State’s reversal as unlawful. The HES site is a neighborhood of this province. People live there. The HES is planned in an urban setting, which would make life unbearable,” Özkazanç argued.

Resentment against the project was already accumulated after the company managed to procure a construction permit in the center of Arhavi, despite the fact that legislation did not allow such facilities in urban areas. The permit was eventually granted after the municipality declared half of the neighborhood where the plant is planned to be built as a “special urban development area.” 

The project includes a 14-Megawatt electricity production center and a center of power distribution.