Statement of the Ukrainian National Environmental NGO “MAMA-86” regarding the Programme of hydropower development in Ukraine until 2026 Print
Monday, 01 August 2016 13:34

mama-86-logo-240x160Зміст «Програми розвитку гідроенергетики України до 2026 року», схваленої КМУ 13 липня ц.р., засвідчує несприйняття принципів інтегрованої екологічної політики очільниками енергетичної галузі та виконавчою владою в цілому. Урядовці нової формації демонструють свідомість «перетворювачів природи» радянської доби, вперто ігноруючи передбачувані руйнівні наслідки своїх дій.

The content of the Programme of hydropower development in Ukraine until 2026, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on July 13 this year, testifies to the unacceptance of the integrated environmental policy principles by leaders of the energy sector and by the executive authorities as a whole. Top policy makers of the new formation have manifested the mentality of the Soviet-era “nature transformers”, stubbornly ignoring the predictable devastating consequences of their actions.

It is only the brutal domination of economic interests over environmental ones that can explain the plans for the construction of new hydropower facilities under the conditions of the current over-regulation of the flow of the Dnieper river and the steadily aggravating threat of water shortages, related to both the climate change (such as droughts), and lack of sustainable water resource management that entails overuse of water resources. The commonly known consequences of construction of hydropower plants on plain-terrain rivers are the hydro-morphological alterations (regulation of the river flow, impoundments, reservoir effects including accumulation of large volumes of water and sediments, flooding of large areas to form the reservoir beds) that cause degradation of hydro ecosystems and the loss of ecosystem services to provide self-purification of water resources, as well as  qualitative and quantitative restoration of biological resources, and the flooding of adjacent areas and significant pollution of surface water- the source of drinking water for 70% of Ukrainians.

Today, the agenda should not include further construction of hydropower facilities on the Dnipro river and the creation of a “cascade of hydropower plants” on the Dniester river, but instead, must envisage elimination of at least some of the Dnipro cascade hydroelectric power plants to restore the natural river flow, and minimization of the negative environmental impacts of the operating hydropower plants on the Dniester river.

At that, attempts to use environmental arguments to the rationale of the Programme appear to be cynical manipulation of the public opinion.

First, the claimed reduction of emissions by fossil-fuel TPPs, and the saving of fuel, will only occur in case of decommissioning of those enterprises, which is not in question. Most likely, the new hydropower units will not compensate for the decommissioning of the thermal generation facilities, but will rather expand those to improve the prospects of electricity exports, which in recent months alone increased by 2.9 bn kWh.

Second, the real decrease (or at least limiting) of emissions by Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry should be sought as soon as now, and not at the decade-long horizon, through energy efficiency improvements (not just talks about it), a comprehensive and balanced (not selective) implementation of all kinds of renewable energy sources (hydro, solar, wind, biogas, etc.); retrofitting and upgrading of the operating thermal power plants; modernization of the operating hydropower plants; introduction of innovative micro hydropower plants.

Third (but not the least important): no virtual positive changes in addressing environmental problems can be achieved through real aggravation of the existing ones and creation of new environmental problems.

The Programme was adopted ignoring the generally accepted European democratic norms and Ukraine's international legal obligations according to the Aarhus Convention and a number of other Acts ratified by Ukraine (including the Espoo Convention and the SEA Protocol to this Convention). Even after the Programme had been adopted and made public, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry limited itself only to a parody of a public discussion through a video conference attended by the Ministry officers and unnamed “public experts” from Chernihiv, Lviv and Odessa oblasts, although the Programme has a national wide significance and its consequences will directly affect vital interests of residents of a number of Ukraine's regions.

It is necessary to note that the Kaniv PSP project (Cherkasy oblast) was not implemented at the turn of the 1990s because of its flat-out rejection by the public, who resolutely confronted the destruction of the cultural and landscape environment that the construction would have entailed.

Broad public is not interested only in arguments by the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, but also in the stance of the Ministry of the Environment and the State Agency of Water Resources, which should properly assess the environmental threats associated with the Programme implementation. It is also necessary to identify social threats posed by specific projects within the Programme (such as the Tashlyk PSP, the Dniester hydropower complex, the Kakhovka HPP-2, etc.), which are related to drinking water – food – economy security under climate change (primarily droughts that, over the past decade, have occurred almost every year and covered large territory of Ukraine).

The Programme must pass both the public consultations and also the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) procedure, as envisaged by the SEA Protocol to the Espoo Convention, ratified by Ukraine, and the Law on which was approved in the first reading by the Verkhovna Rada before the adoption of the Programme.

Therefore, fulfilment of the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on approval of the Programme of Hydropower development in Ukraine until 2026 must be stopped until the respective public consultations and entering into force the Law of Ukraine “On strategic environmental assessment”. Following the discussion and evaluation, the corresponding adjustments must be made in the Programme.

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