Court halts construction of urban hydroelectric plant in Black Sea port
In a landmark decision issued on Aug. 21, an administrative court in Rize emphasized that eight other hydroelectric plants had already been built on the Kapisre River – too many to preserve the ecological balance of the area.A local administrative court has halted the construction of a hydroelectric power plant (HES) in the center of the Black Sea port of Arhavi in the northeastern province of Artvin, canceling the environmental impact report submitted to the authorities by the company.
In a landmark decision issued on Aug. 21, an administrative court in Rize emphasized that eight other hydroelectric plants had already been built on the Kapisre River – too many to preserve the ecological balance of the area.
Lawyer Takup Şekip Okumuşoğlu, who is representing local complainants, has stressed that the area also contained many stone quarries, whose negative impact on the environment also had to be taken into account when making assessments.
Locals accused the company of cheating on its assessment report by taking measurements on parts of the river that would not be affected by the projects, which added to the resentment of permitting such a facility inside an urban area despite current legislation banning the practice.
The court found further flaws in the environmental assessment report approved by the Environment Ministry, setting a possible precedent for the future. The court said the report should contain details on the potential impacts 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 clearly be calculated, while adding that waste storage areas should be adequately chosen.
The fight against the project, which is just one of hundreds planned along the Black Sea coast, grew as the permit was eventually granted after the municipality declared half of the neighborhood where the plant is planned as a “special urban development area.”
Activists have regularly criticized the government and the Environment Ministry for approving environment impact assessment reports that are insufficient and often distorted.
A recent parliamentary report also added its voice to those who have demanded better assessments of hydroelectric plants within a givan area so as to attain a clearer picture of the environmental damage caused by the plants.