STA, 24 August 2022 - More than 50 scientists have made an appeal to the government to annul the decision by its predecessor that the public interest of producing renewable energy overrides the public interest of nature conservation in the Mokrice hydropower station project.
"We ask for a professionally and legally consistent reconsideration of the (un)reasonableness of encroaching on nature at the confluence of the Sava, Krka and Sotla rivers," reads the appeal, signed by representatives of natural sciences, including biochemist Tamara Lah Turnšek and researchers Darja Stanič and Al Vrezec.
They believe the government, in prioritising the interest of energy, "failed to take into consideration the legal provision stipulating that natural resources, especially water resources, may not be degraded or destroyed if there are other less harmful options".
Such an approach "is not in the interests of Slovenian citizens and is distinctly contrary to the interests of the future generations". They say that short-term political or capital interests should not prevail in decisions that have a damaging or destructive impact on nature.
The signatories believe the deliberation of which public interest prevails in this case or the assessment of better solutions at the national level have not been conducted, as the procedures concerned have not been carried out in the actual process of adopting the Renewable Energy Action Plan or in the context of the comprehensive National Energy and Climate Plan. The latter does not foresee the construction of large hydropower plants until 2030.
They refer to a decision by the EU Court, which they say has set forth that the absence of better solutions for nature had to be proven, which they said the government failed to do satisfactorily at the national level in the case of the Mokrice plant.
Instead, the signatories support accelerating the construction of unit 2 of the Krško nuclear power plant. "Once the unit is operational, expectedly around 2035, there will be enough electricity in Slovenia and strategic projections show the country will have become a net electricity exporter," the appeal reads, adding that nuclear power plants have a very small carbon or biodiversity prints and that with the second reactor in place hydropower stations will no longer be needed.
As the second key energy potential they see solar power plants of all sizes.
The Administrative Court has recently decreed that the planned Mokrice hydropower station on the river Sava cannot get a building permit until it has ruled on legal action brought against the project by the Slovenian Native Fish Society.