The Tide is Turning in the Fight to Save Valbona Valley NP

Last week (on 6 June, in an unpublicized closed-door hearing), a panel of 3 judges in the administrative appeals court of Tirana ruled to overturn the previous decision of the court, instead upholding the request of NGO TOKA and 27 inhabitants for a stop work injunction against the construction of the Dragobia Energy hydropower plants in Valbona Valley National Park.  The injunction was originally requested in January 2018, as part of a suit suing the National Territorial Council (KKT) of Albania over their decision in November 2017 to issue the projects with a new construction permit.  The plaintiffs argue that the new permit is clearly illegal, as the Law for Protected Areas was amended in June 2017 declaring hydro powers illegal in National Parks.  The projects’ initial construction permit expired in May 2017.  Under Albanian law, a stop work injunction should be granted in all cases where “irreversible environmental damage may occur during the period of the judicial process.”  It should remain in effect until the final resolution of the suit of TOKA & 27 vs. KKT, which could be some months or years depending on the appeals process.

At present, the plaintiffs are awaiting the court’s publication of the formal decision, at which time the injunction can be enforced.  Once the injunction is in effect, any continued construction on the part of the companies (Dragobia Energy or its parent owner Gener2) would constitute a criminal act in contempt of court, and any such constructions would be liable for removal at the companies’ expense.

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