16 Sep Public Discussion on Kolubara B: Once Again, No Dialogue
The previously postponed public discussion on the Draft Spatial Plan for the construction of the Kolubara B thermal power plant was held on Monday, September 14, and was ended early, only an hour into the session. Citizens and representatives of civil society organizations appeared at the session with the intention to discuss numerous submitted objections to the draft. However, representatives of the Ministry of Construction, Transport, and Infrastructure abruptly left the room after a while, without explaining the reason or announcing a new date for the session.
We’ve written about the devastating impact this coal-fired power plant would have on the environment, the health of the citizens of Serbia, as well as the economy and the energy sector. To see which objections civil society organizations submitted to the draft plan, click on the link below. The public discussion about this plan and the objections was supposed to start in June, but was postponed due to epidemiological situation.
The session scheduled for the new date was attended by representatives of the Belgrade Open School and RERI. They pointed out that the current epidemiological situation, despite being better than two months ago, still prohibits the indoor gatherings of more than 30 people. The number of participants exceeded that limit. However, that was no justification for the attempts of the ministry’s representatives to exclude the citizens from the discussion.
In addition, there have been procedural omissions during the session.
“Representatives of the Ministry, who are in charge of conducting this administrative procedure, did not record the session and the citizen’s remarks,” RERI announced in a statement.
“Mirko Popović from RERI insisted that the chairman answer his question about keeping a procedural record of the event. Lawyer Sreten Djordjevic requested the presiding committee member to be dismissed, and to have his request recorded. However, these requests fell on deaf ears,” it was explained in the announcement.
The session was interrupted after an hour, when the representatives of the ministry left the room without officially ending the session or announcing a new date.
“We demand from the authorities not to conduct public debates, due to the current epidemiological situation and the risk it carries for all participants. We also believe that the current epidemiological situation cannot be an excuse to restrict the right of the public to be informed in a timely manner and to participate in decision-making processes in the field of environmental protection. We are asking from authorities to suspend these processes until all conditions for transparent discussion are met. You have to guarantee both public participation and the safety of all participants,” the Belgrade Open School said in a statement.
BOS, RERI, and CEKOR found numerous technical omissions, contradictions, and mistakes in the draft Special Purpose Area Plan for the construction of the Kolubara B thermal power plant and the report on the strategic environmental assessment. In their objections, they concluded that the report should be rejected because it was not created in accordance with the law and the interests of the citizens of Serbia.