Novo pismo Europskoj komisiji: Novi planovi regulacije Dunava protiv su okolišnih zakona EU te...
Open complaint to the European Commission 1 New river regulation projects along the Danube in Croatia contravene EU environmental law and threaten planned Transboundary Biosphere reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”, Natura 2000 sites and protected areas 1 Supporting information to the NGO letter to the European Commission about the planned new river regulation projects on Mura, Drava, Danube, Sava and Neretva rivers in Croatia dated 02 nd February 2011
Novo pismo Europskoj komisiji: Novi planovi regulacije Dunava protiv su okolišnih zakona EU te prijete Rezervatu biosfere Mura-Drava-Dunav
Text of Novo pismo Europskoj komisiji: Novi planovi regulacije Dunava protiv su okolišnih zakona EU te...
Open complaint to the European Commission1
New river regulation projects along the Danube in Croatia contravene EU environmental law
and threaten planned Transboundary Biosphere reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”, Natura 2000 sites and protected areas
1 Supporting information to the NGO letter to the European Commission about the planned new river regulation projects
on Mura, Drava, Danube, Sava and Neretva rivers in Croatia dated 02nd February 2011
To: Mr. Janez Poto nik, Commissioner, DG Environment Mr. Štefan Füle, Commissioner, DG Enlargement Rue de la Loi, 200 B-1049 Brüssel
Zagreb, Vienna, Budapest, Radolfzell, akovec,
Koprivnica, Virovitica, Osijek, 4 July 2011 Ongoing and planned regulation of the natural Danube river between Croatia and Serbia a) Regulation projects threaten intact river ecosystem within planned Natura 2000 sites, protected areas and the planned Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube” b) The projects confirm outdated river management in Croatia, which is not in line with EU legislation, international standards and the “Joint Statement on Guiding Principles for the Development of Inland Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin” Dear Commissioners, On behalf of the signed NGOs we would like to call your attention to the ongoing and planned destruction of natural values along the Danube River between Croatia and Serbia, within future Natura 2000 sites, protected areas and the planned five-country Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”. The regulation projects, current status and impacts Croatian Water Management Authorities2 are planning heavy structural works for improving the navigability of the Danube River in Croatia. The first project includes over 92 spots along a 53 km long river stretch between Croatia and Serbia where new groins, embankments and dredging are planned (Annex 1, regulation study for download: http://puo.mzopu.hr/UserDocsImages/Elaborat_14_05_2010_1.pdf). The second project includes a 4 km river stretch where new embankments are planned. The regulation projects on the Danube River clearly demonstrate that the Water Management Authorities of Croatia are trying to maintain the outdated system of river management practices and to gain approval of further major works before Croatia joins the EU and EU legal provisions – including the EU Water Framework Directive, EU Habitats and Bird Directives – come into force. These projects are in clear violation of the Joint Statement on Guiding Principles for the Development of Inland Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin3 (adopted by the Danube Commission, Sava Commission and International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River) and its specific recommendations on integrated planning principles which facilitate the fullfilment of relevant EU environmental legislation. The Joint Statement specifically calls for completing procedures for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for projects as well as ensuring that there are no technically viable, environmentally better and not disproportionately costly alternative means to achieve the required objective, in line with the requirements of Article 4(7) of the Water Framework Directive. 2 Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management; Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure; Croatian Waters and Agency for Inland Waterways 3 http://www.icpdr.org/icpdr-pages/navigation_and_ecology_process.htm
On behalf of the NGOs: Mr Andreas Beckmann WWF-DCPO Ottakringerstrasse 114-116 A-1160 Vienna Mr Tibor Mikuska Croatian Society for Bird and Nature Protection Gunduli eva 19a HR-31000 Osijek
Description of natural values The Danube stretch and its floodplains between Hungary, Croatia and Serbia – from the mouth of Sio River in Hungary downstream Ilok in Croatia – is the best preserved and most natural river section in the whole Pannonian basin. The floodplain area extends over 100,.000 hectares and includes the wetlands of Kopacki rit in Croatia4. This site holds the highest density of breeding pairs of White-tailed Eagles in continental Europe (up to 15 pairs per 10 km2) and regularly supports over 20,000 waterbirds. The whole area in Croatia is a Ramsar site and part of the National Ecological Network (HR1000016 Podunavlje and Donje Podravlje including several sub-sites), a future NATURA 2000 site. The most valuable areas are already protected as Nature Park Kopacki rit (IUCN category V) and Special Zoological Reserve (IUCN category Ib). The area in Serbia is protected as the Special Nature Reserve “Gornje Podunavlje” and a Ramsar site. The whole area is part of the future five-country Trans-Boundary Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”. Commitment to establishing this joint reserve was signed recently by the ministers responsible for environment and nature protection of Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia at a meeting hosted by the Hungarian EU Presidency at Gödöllö near Budapest on March 25, 2011 (Annex 7).
Projects and threats Croatian Water Management Authorities plan to change the natural flow of the meandering courses of the Danube River and divert it into a unified regulated river corridor. This regulation corridor, which was defined about 30 years ago in former Yugoslavia, describes a constant width of the Danube riverbed at 300-450 m in this river section. According to the project studies, the main purpose of these plans is to improve navigation and flood protection. First project (rkm 1380-1433)5, 6 This project aims to regulate 53 km of the natural Danube stretch between Croatia and Serbia – from the Croatian-Hungarian border (at 1433 rkm) downstream to the mouth of Drava river (at 1380 rkm) by construction of a series of river training structures and by extracting sediments from the riverbed. Construction of at least 92 new river training structures (72 T-groins, 15,5 km of new embankments and 2 parralel structures) are planned between Croatia and Serbia, though most of the works are envisaged on Croatian territory. In 2010, the Croatian Agency for Inland Waterways started the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) preparation. The EIA in Croatia is still ongoing (as far as we are aware, no similar process has yet started in Serbia). However, parts of this project (e.g. from 1405-1406 rkm) have already been approved by the relevant Croatian ministries (e.g. Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction) and implemented in 2008 and 2009 without any previous EIA or SEA nor Transboundary Impact Assessment with Serbia according the ESPOO Convention. Implementation of the project has continued in the first half of 2011 with construction of a new embankment at Kazuk area in Croatia (1412 rkm) (see Annex 2). Second project (rkm 1321-1325) 7 During 2010, the Croatian Agency for Inland Waterways announced a second project for the regulation of a 4-km long Danube stretch (from 1321-1325 rkm). On 8th September 2010, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction issued a permit without any EIA or SEA nor Transboundary Impact Assessment with Serbia according to the Espoo Convention.
Environmental and political problems resulting from these projects (see also Annex 3) According to the project studies, the main purpose of the plans is to improve the conditions for navigation and flood protection. However, no justification is given for such massive technical interventions along the Danube. On the contrary, there are no settlements or infrastructure that are threatened by flooding, nor do modern approaches to navigation require such measures. As the projects date back to former Yugoslavia (the current "Croatian" regulation study is based on the regulation plan developed by the Jaroslav erni Institute in Belgrade in the 1980s), no alternative options have been investigated to this regulation project nor has “state of the art” practice in river management in line with EU legislation been considered. No technically viable, environmentally better and not disproportionately costly alternative means, in line with the requirements of Article 4(7) of the Water Framework Directive, have been investigated.
No Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has been carried out for the project taking into account the full scale of impacts of the planned measures, nor any transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment according to the Espoo Convention between Croatia and Serbia. No cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken, especially demonstrating the economic needs for and benefits of an improved navigation route. On 16 February 2011 the EU Parliament has issued a resolution8 on the 2010 progress report on Croatia which demands in relation to the planned regulation of the Danube to “respect the landscape context, which is unique in Europe”, and “to apply EU rules on development authorisation from the outset”. The regulation projects as they stand now are in clear conflict with these demands. We are very much concerned about these projects as they are based on an outdated approach of Croatian Water Management Authorities to regulate the Danube River according to the once defined river regulation corridor and on false arguments for navigation and public safety. The main purpose of the projects is to maintain a system of outdated water management practises in Croatia, part of an overall strategy of Croatian Water Management Authorities to regulate all natural river stretches across the country (see NGO letter dated 2nd Februray 2011). The fact that current river management practice in Croatia is outdated, environmentally and economically unsustainable and not in line with the legal requirements of the Water Framework Directive is well known from the results of the EU Twinning project „Implementation of Water Framework Directive in Croatia“, which was carried out between 2007 and 2009 in Croatia and which concluded, among other things, that “Croatia’s water administration is still focusing on traditional, technical oriented measures and is not really aware of the paradigm shift that took place in member states”9 (Annex 4). The fact that Croatian Water Management is not willing to change its practice has also been documented on the Drava River. In 2009 the European Commission conducted a Fact Finding Mission to Croatia and two international experts were hired to assess river management projects and impacts along the Lower Drava River. Though the experts clearly recommended in their report not to “carry out this planned project” but to develop and apply modern “state of the art” practices on the Drava in line with EU laws and to “stop sediment extraction”, Croatia Water Management Authorities have already started to implement the regulation project on the Drava river since 2010 in at least five locations (see photo documentary Annex 2). Moreover, illegal gravel extraction on the Croatian part of the Drava at Pitoma a (176 rkm) has been ongoing since 2007 (see letter to the European Commission dated 24th June 2009). Our recommendations We, the undersigned NGOs, still see considerable lack of political will and interest of Croatian Water Management Authorities to implement sustainable river management in practice in line with Croatian and EU environmental law and according to international standards. This is disconcerting in light of the green light that was recently given by the EU Commission and EU Council for Croatia’s accession to the EU. Implementation of these projects along the Danube would prevent the achievement of EU priorities related to river basin management and the maintenance of valuable ecosystem goods and services, including flood management, sustainable forestry, provision of drinking water and sustainable navigation along the Danube. Given the ongoing resistance of the water management sector of Croatia to find an appropriate strategy for the development of the rivers in compliance with the EU environmental acquis and harmonised and sustainable river basin management planning, we therefore ask the European Commission within the monitoring of Croatia’s commitments to fulfill EU standards and laws by the time of its accession to the European Union to immediately urge Croatia, respectively the Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management, the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure as well as the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction, to: Desist from taking any further decisions or steps regarding the implementation of these projects
and to impose a moratorium on these river regulation and sediment extraction. Current regulation works as recently documented along the Danube e.g. at Kazuk (1412 rkm) or along the Drava must be stopped immediately (see Annex 2).
Initiate a round table between all relevant stakeholders to discuss and review current projects and practices and find sustainable alternatives in line with Croatian and EU law.
In particular, we ask the EU Commission to urge the relevant Croatian ministries and institutions to: Comply with the EU Water Framework Directive, Floods Directive, Habitats and Birds
Directives (Natura 2000), with protected areas and the Joint Statement on Guiding Principles for the Development of Inland Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin in the development of these projects. No works should be done instead of following these requirements even before accession of Croatia.
Investigate alternative forms of navigation development and “state of the art” practice in river management. Technically viable, environmentally better and not disproportionately costly alternative means, in line with the requirements of Article 4(7) of the Water Framework Directive must be investigated.
Carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as well as transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment according to the Espoo Convention together with Serbia.
Carry out a thorough cost-benefit analysis, especially demonstrating the economic needs for and benefits of an improved navigation route.
Carry out a cost-benefit analysis to calculate the short and long term costs of the project, the costs of maintenance of the navigation route and the costs if the ecological services will decrease, or disappear along the Danube.
Develop a study on the hydro-morphological and ecological alterations which must follow the suggestions of Article 4.7 of the Water Framework Directive.
Guarantee participation of relevant stakeholders, including NGOs and affected population from the beginning in the further development of these projects.
We are prepared to provide further and more detailed information if required and would be happy to support and discuss alternative options with all relevant stakeholders that can ensure the future sustainable development of the rivers as a treasure of Croatian and European natural heritage. Yours sincerely,
Martin Schneider-Jacoby EuroNatur
Irma Popovic Dujmovic
Drava League Croatia
Goran Safarek Baobab Croatia
Helena Hecimovic Ecological Society of
Croatian Society for Bird and Nature Protection
ZEO Nobilis Croatia
Goran Cizmesija ZEUS Croatia
Jasmin Sadikovic Green Osijek Croatia
Natural History Society Drava
Gábor Figeczky WWF Hungary
cc: Mr Karl Falkenberg, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Michael Leigh, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Ladislav Miko, European Commission, DG Environment Mr François Wakenhut, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Stefan Leiner, European Commission, DG Environment Mrs Pia Bucella, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Julio Garcia-Burgues, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Peter Gammeltoft, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Jorge Rodriguez-Romero, European Commission, DG Environment Mrs Marieke Van-Nood, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Timo Makela, European Commission, DG Environment Mr Nicholas Hanley, European Commission, DG Environment Mrs Anne Burrill, European Commission, DG Environment Mr François Delcueillerie, European Commission, DG Environment
Mr Paul Vandoren, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Croatia Mr Richard Masa, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Croatia Mr Davor Percan, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Croatia Mr Hannes Swoboda, Member of the European Parliament Mr Božidar Pankreti , Croatian Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management Mr Božidar Kalmeta, Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Mr Jasen Mesi , Croatian Ministry of Culture Mr Branko Ba , Croatian Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction Mr Tomislav Mihoti , Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Mr Danijel Mileta, Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Mr Miroslav Ištuk, Agency for Inland Waterways Mr Jadranko Husari , Croatian Waters Mr Nikola Ružinski, Croatian Ministry of Environ. Protection, Physical Planning and Construction Mr Zdravko Krmek, Croatian Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management Mr Zoran Šiki , Croatian Ministry of Culture Mrs Kornelija Pintaric, Croatian Ministry of Culture Mr Davorin Markovic, State Institute for Nature Protection Croatia
Mr Oliver Dulic, Serbian Ministry of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning Mr Srdjan Jovicic, Serbian Ministry of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning Mr Dusan Petrovic, Serbian Ministry of Trade, Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Mr Jovana Stanisljevic, Serbian Ministry of Trade, Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management
Mr Dejan Komatina, ISRBC-International Sava River Basin Commission Mr Phil Weller, ICPDR – International Commission for the protection of the Danube River Mr Tobias Salathe, Ramsar Bureau, Gland, Switzerland Mr Nick Bonvoisin, Espoo Convention
Annex 1 – Overview map of planned regulation along the Danube and Drava Rivers and extract of the Danube regulation study Whole study for download - http://puo.mzopu.hr/UserDocsImages/Elaborat_14_05_2010_1.pdf
Annex 2 - Photos of current regulation works along Danube and Drava Rivers (date: June 2011)
Newly built embankment at Kazuk/Danube (1412 rkm)
Newly built embankment at Dalj/Danube (1352 rkm)
Newly built embankment (14 rkm)/Drava where Sand Martin colony of 400 pairs was destroyed Newly built embankment (25 rkm)/Drava Newly built embankment (44 rkm)/Drava
Annex 3 – Environmental, legal and political implications of the regulation project The regulation plan for the Danube:
dates back to the socialist times of former Yugoslavia and is in clear contradiction with the principles of sustainable development and environmental protection of the EU.
would cause irreversible deterioration of the current “ecological status” and natural values of the Danube River and clearly contravenes EU environmental legislation (including the Water Framework Directive, the Habitats and Bird Directives) and Croatian environmental law (Nature Protection Act).
is clearly not in line with the Danube River Basin District Management Plan conclusions10, Joint Statement on Guiding Principles for the Development of Inland Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin and its specific recommendations, as well as so called “Platina manual” (Manual on good practices in sustainable waterway planning)11 whose development was funded by the European Commission. The Croatian regulation projects envisage the maintenance of shipping corridor through disconnection of the river from its floodplain completely neglecting the ecosystem functions, services and benefits provided by wetlands to the humans.
threatens European endangered habitats and species within planned Natura 2000 sites and sites of the National Ecological Network (www.cro-nen.hr/nem) such as 91E0*: Alluvial forests (priority habitat), 3270: Rivers with muddy banks; species included in Annex II of the Habitats Directive such as Schraetzer, Streber; as well as species included in the Annex I of the Birds Directive such as Great Egret, Little Egret, White-tailed Eagle, Black stork and Kingfisher.
endangers the best preserved still meandering river stretches in the Middle Danube incl. vast wetland areas and alluvial forests, including protected areas and wetland areas of international importance (Ramsar sites) in Croatia. Trough the disrupption of natural hydro-morphological processes the project would have major impact on protected areas as the Nature park and Special Zoological Reserve Kopacki rit in Croatia, as well as Special Nature Reserve Gornje Podunavlje in Serbia, both protected as Ramsar sites and part of the declared Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”.
Annex 4 - Key findings of the EU Twinning project „Implementation of Water Framework Directive in Croatia“, which was carried out between 2007 and 2009 in Croatia12
„In regard to flood management, Croatia’s water administration is still focusing on traditional, technical oriented measures and is not really aware of the paradigm shift that took place in Member states. Intensive technical oriented flood protection and maintenance activities, especially in the Pannonian region, have caused already significant ecological damages and will put the rivers at risk to fail the Water Framework Directive objectives (see 2.1 and 4.3). In the field of renaturation of rivers enormous efforts are made in Member State countries showing that ecology and flood protection can go hand in hand. In addition these integrated flood management concepts proved to be more cost-effective than traditional technical solutions”.
“Morphological alterations turned out to play an important role, especially in the Pannonian part of
the country. Results compiled by the Twinning Project clearly indicate that a large number of rivers are strongly degraded and are at high risk of failing the objectives (see Activity 2.1). Nevertheless Croatia’s water administration still focuses on technical river regulation (canalization, diking). Thus, the current maintenance of rivers contradicts Croatia’s efforts to harmonize its environmental legislation with the EU water acquis”.
“In terms of hydromorphology Hrvatske Vode should reduce maintenance of rivers (e.g. no
removal of all bank vegetation), apply soft engineering techniques and follow the “give space to the rivers”- approach (see also 1.7). For flood protection an approach that focused on strengthening dikes should be substituted by an approach that develops flood storage areas and provides ecological and recreational benefits”.
“River regulation measures are frequently deteriorating the status of rivers. Those investments
should be reduced significantly. The resources could be used more efficiently for investments in the urban wastewater sector”.
The current approach of river maintenance focusing on flood protection does not comply with
objectives of the WFD, especially considering its ecological dimension. Therefore budget reallocations between different water management activities need to be efficiently coordinated in order to increase effectiveness before considering exemptions. Linked to this, further interference with natural river morphology that is transforming natural river courses into uniform canals, leads to significant degradation of the ecological status, which is against WFD objectives (see 4.3). The present way of maintenance and morphological alterations is not only cost intensive, but will also result in considerable costs for river renaturation in order to achieve the good ecological status/potential. Reduced river maintenance however, would lead to an improvement of the ecological status and would also enable the use of remaining funds for other restoration measures”.
Annex 5 - National and international press coverage from June 2011 on planned Danube regulation See international WWF press release, dated 17. June 2011 - http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=200699 Internet links International
Some selected newspaper articles (in german) Der Standard
News (largest weekly newspaper in Austria)
Annex 7 – Signing of the five-country Ministerial Declaration between Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia for the establishment of a Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube” (25. March 2011, Informal Ministerial Meeting within Hungarian EU Presidency/ Gödöll See international WWF press release, dated 25. March 2011 -http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?199772/Worlds-first-five-country-protected-area-to-conserve-Europes-Amazon