BIRN and KOSID have won their legal battle with the Ministry of Infrastructure regarding the permission it gave Contour Global company to build the third coal-fired power plant in Kosovo.
In March, the decision of the Basic Court of Prishtina became effective, obliging the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure, MESPI, to cancel the consent it gave to “Contour Global” company on December 27, 2018, to build a new power plant.
Balkan Investigative Regional Network, BIRN in the framework of the Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development, KOSID, contested the legality of the decision of the ministry.
Jeta Xharra, director of BIRN, and Labinot Leposhtica, chief lawyer at BIRN, were present at the hearing on January 12 at the Basic Court of Prishtina, and argued that the court should rule in favour of the citizens in this case.
“Despite the fact that Contour Global is now in an arbitration dispute with Kosovo, the courts of Kosovo should help citizens in such a way that we can use your decision to educate the current and future political powers that they cannot make decisions that harm both our health and our environment by building new coal-fired power plants,” Xharra stated.
According to Xharra, data from the Association of Pulmonologists of Kosovo show that the number of people affected by cancer is five times higher in areas near power plants than in those further away.
Representatives of the State Attorney’s Office, who contested BIRN’s lawsuit in writing, were absent from the court session.
Labinot Leposhtica, BIRN’s chief lawyer, told the court that the MESPI issued its environmental consent without an environmental impact assessment and without conducting a proper public debate with citizens.
“The contested environmental consent of the ministry was issued without holding public hearings in all the municipalities affected by the construction of the power plant and, moreover, the public hearing held in the Municipality of Obiliq, where this power plant was planned to be built, was held before the report for the assessment of the environmental impact officially existed, so citizens who participated in this public hearing were deprived of basic information to know the environmental impacts of this project,” BIRN’s lawsuit stated.
Justifying the court’s decision, the judge in the case, Kreshnik Kaçiu, ruled that the ministry’s decision had flaws that violate the provisions of the Law on Administrative Procedure.
“The contested decision by MESPI is legally ambiguous and contradicts itself and its reasoning,” the court’s decision said.
By approving BIRN’s lawsuit, the court has obliged the ministry to re-examine the case and answer all the points of the lawsuit.
According to the decision, construction of the power plant cannot proceed in secret, without proper public debate in the community affected by the power plant.
30 March 2023 - 14:47
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