According to the Minister for Rural Development, a dam 75 metres high co‑financed by the EU is to be built on the River Aliakmonas in the region of Nestorio, Kastoria(1). The project will create a reservoir of 823 000 square metres, which will flood a gorge with important geological formations and fauna and thousands of hectares of productive forest containing clusters of priority habitats(2)(3)(4). Consequently, this particular intervention is thematically and financially at odds with the current LIFE09NAT/GR/00333 project relating to the species ursus arctos and previous LIFE projects. Moreover, the reservoir will adversely affect the quality of the water and it may have an adverse effect on the climate in the area, increase the risk of earthquake and speeding up erosion of the banks(5). Finally, it is likely to reverse the direction of decades of ecotourism-oriented development in favour of intensive irrigated maize and alfalfa crops which may or may not generate a profit. The environmental impact assessment used to obtain permission for the project did not consider any alternative solutions, either in terms of irrigation or in terms of electricity production, nor has the impact of dozens of other artificial works along the Aliakmonas River system been taken into consideration(6)(7)(8). It should also be noted that, so far, no preliminary basin management plan has been drawn up for Section 09 (Western Macedonia), as required of Greece under Directive 2000/60/EC(9).
Will the Commission say:
Have the Greek authorities notified it of this particular project?
Does it agree that it is in breach of Greek and European legislation, especially Directive 92/43/EC (Article 6), in that it will have an adverse impact on priority habitats and species?
Does it agree that there are clashes between financing programmes?
Does it consider that decisions on such projects should be taken after basin management plans have been drawn up, not before?
The record and study of Habitat 9180 (linden and other broad-leaved forests) and of others species listed in Annex I to Directive 92/43/EC was the subject of two EU LIFE-Nature programmes (LIFE96NAT/GR/003222 and LIFE99NAT/GR/006498).
Four large dams are in operation, two are under construction, one is on the drawing board and there are plans for over 20 small hydroelectric plants. Thus half the flow of the River Aliakmonas will be turned into a reservoir, creating massive obstacles to movements of large mammals.
Letter from Arcturos Bear Sanctuary to the Ministry of Environmental Affairs, Physical Planning and Public Works on the need to protect the average flow rate of the River Aliakmonas and avoid dams, Ref. No 72/17-03-2008.