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Article

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Buk Bijela dam “groundbreaking” event met by protests, environmental concerns

"Drina dam “groundbreaking” event met by scepticism and protests", 17 May 2021

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić has today taken part in what was billed as a groundbreaking ceremony for the hotly disputed Buk Bijela dam on the upper part of the river Drina in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The event has been met by opposition from Serbia, Montenegro and BiH, as well as scepticism about the project’s readiness.

Currently, a company 49 per cent owned by Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS) and 51 per cent owned by Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) is not only planning to build Buk Bijela on the upper Drina, but also Foča and Paunci. Together, these three would have a total capacity of around 180 megawatts.

The Aarhus Center in Sarajevo has submitted two cases to the Republika Srpska high court on the Buk Bijela and Foča plants. The first is challenging the Ministry for Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology’s 2019 decision to allow ERS to rely on a poor quality environmental impact assessment of Buk Bijela written a decade ago, instead of requiring a new study when it applied for a new environmental permit. The second challenges the Banja Luka District Court’s failure to quash the environmental permit for Foča even though ERS breached the legal deadline for requesting its renewal...A case is also pending at the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee due to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s failure to consult Montenegro about the transboundary environmental impacts of the upper Drina hydropower plants.

...[A]ccording to scientists, damming this section of the Drina would disrupt the migration of the endangered Danube Salmon from the Tara upstream, where steep cliffs protect the river from human influences but do not offer many suitable spawning grounds.