The Energy Regulatory Commission in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FERK) has denied ‘Eko-Vat’ – a company based in Jablanica – the operating permit for the ‘Zlate’ Small Hydroelectric Power Plant. Their request for granting the status of a qualified electricity generator has also been denied. FERK rendered this decision after the Cantonal Court in Mostar issued a verdict last month, nullifying the previously issued operating permit for this small hydropower plant on the Doljanka River.
“We acted following the verdict of the Cantonal Court and rendered this decision. This decision does not prevent them (Eko-Vat) from applying again when they meet the conditions”, says Ines Kujundžić, the FERK spokesperson.
The citizens’ association ‘Za Doljanku’ [For Doljanka] reminded that three years ago, they initiated this administrative dispute against FERK’s decision that allowed the operation of the ‘Zlate’ Small Hydropower Plant, challenging the validity of documents based on which the permit was issued.
“The Cantonal Court in Mostar held that the annulled environmental permit could not have been deemed effective at the time when the decision to issue the operating permit was made”, announced the citizens’ association. According to Naza Spahić, president of the Association, citizens expect “that inspection authorities will finally shut down the small hydropower plant”.
In 2019, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIN) reported about institutions repeatedly issuing permits for the ‘Zlate’ mini-hydropower plant, circumventing and ignoring the views of the citizens. The company ‘Eko-Vat,’ owned by former Bosnian basketball player Mirza Teletović, began the construction of the hydropower plant in the fall of 2018, despite opposition from the local population.
“Someone is always bothered by something, that’s perfectly normal. I’m just disappointed that people don’t understand the project. I’m upset that people don’t understand me as someone from Jablanica,” said Mirza Teletović in 2019, as reported by CIN.
Early last year, the Cantonal Court in Mostar ruled that the citizens of Jablanica were unlawfully excluded from the permitting process for the construction of the ‘Zlate’ Small Hydropower Plant. After the Jablanica Municipality issued a decision in 2018 allowing the investor to proceed with construction, residents filed a complaint. The Municipality of Jablanica dismissed their complaint as untimely, considering that the residents were not authorized to participate in the process. However, the Court in Mostar annulled that decision and ordered that the citizens’ appeal be reconsidered.