Lucia Varga: Authorizations for SHP projects in protected areas suspended as of Jan 31

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New projects for the development of small hydropower stations will no longer receive approvals and permits as of Jan. 31 if they are supposed to be located in protected areas, provides a protocol signed by Minister-delegate for Water, Forests and Fisheries Lucia Varga and World Wide Fund (WWF) Romania Country manager Magor Csibi.

"Together with WWF we agreed to suspend, beginning January 31, 2014, approvals for the installation of small hydropower and hydropower stations in protected areas. The law allows the suspension of this type of facilities. The deadline for the delimitation of exclusion zones is May 31, 2014. The protocol has a highly challenging scope, specifically investments in small hydro—and hydropower plants on watercourses. We want to minimize the environmental impact of such investments. Together with the WWF we want to advocate sustainable development," Varga told a press conference.

WWF does not oppose economic development but at the same time it pursues the implementation of a long-term economic vision that benefits the citizens and nature, said Magor Csibi, WWF Romania Country manager.

"I hope we are the first country in the region to outline the exclusion zones this year. This protocol will set in place a consistent strategy for mountain rivers," said Magor.

Minister-delegate Lucia Varga said that green energy is good for Romania, but it must be produced by respecting nature.

"We do not block investments, but we want to make sure that these investments are authorized only after compliance with all European regulations. We will analyze the files pending authorization, and the facilities that should be located in protected areas will no longer receive authorization. We have 316 already issued authorizations and 156 provisional approvals, and 291 authorizations are pending. We will request reparation where facilities have already been installed," Lucia Varga said.

The protocol sets forth the requirement to bring the hydropower generation in line with EU legislation on nature conservation, having as main objectives the adoption by the end of January of a law that will outline exclusion zones (water bodies located in protected areas), the establishment, by the end of February, of a working group made up of stakeholders' representatives who will develop until the end of February 2015 a pre-planning mechanism (taking into account the exclusion zones).AGERPRES

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