Why is the new Spatial Plan not harmonized with EU standards?

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

The new Spatial Plan of Serbia contradicts the strategy of the European Union against climate change, because it confirms the construction of thermal power plants on coal and lignite, the participants of the panel “Concerning you too: What does the new Spatial Plan bring?” An additional problem, as it is stated, could be if the EU starts collecting the import tax to Serbia due to excessive carbon dioxide emissions, which would burden the domestic economy.

Ognjen Pantić from the Belgrade Open School (BOŠ) says that the proposal of the new plan mentions new coal-fired thermal power plants, as well as renewable energy sources. He considers all this uncoordinated planning.

According to Pantic, one of the main goals of Serbia in the plan is complete energy independence, which would be achieved by expanding energy capacities with the use of “clean coal”. Commenting on these allegations, the representative of BOS adds that something like pure coal does not actually exist.

If clean coal existed, as Pantic emphasizes, many developed countries would not throw it out of use, but would find an economical solution to use it in an environmentally friendly way.

Pantic notes that the exploitation of lithium in the Jadra Valley is stated as a strategic goal in the proposal of the Spatial Plan. However, he reminds that this claim is actually unfounded, because the project of that mine is still in the evaluation phase, so it cannot be stated with certainty whether it is so profitable.

Mirjana Drenovak-Ivanovic, a professor of environmental law at the Faculty of Law in Belgrade and a member of the negotiating team for Chapter 27 for EU membership, believes that the new plan should define what the state’s priority is and specify whether it is lithium, tourism or example agriculture.

In the new plan, its authors, as he adds, refer to various documents that the state has not even adopted, or their validity period has expired or they do not exist at all.

“We have a frivolous approach to strategic planning, that approach can be seen in the approach to climate change, they are not taken into account at all,” says Drenovak-Ivanovic.

She notes that climate change is currently more intense, due to the pandemic, so the whole world is preparing to prevent or mitigate it.

He notes that Serbia can suffer great economic consequences due to excessive carbon dioxide emissions, especially when exporting its goods to the EU. Namely, the Union would increase the burden on all importing countries that do not respect the CO2 emission limits on the import of goods, which is very important for the domestic economy.

Drenovak-Ivanovic says that Serbia is completely neglecting its strategic commitment to become a member of the EU by 2035 with excessive CO2 emissions. According to current plans, Europe should become a “carbon-neutral” continent by then.

Serbia, on the other hand, is doing the exact opposite, announcing six new coal-fired thermal power plants, so it will not be able to become an EU member by 2035, nor will it be able to improve air quality.

In addition to all that, there are regulations of the Energy Community on the reduction of harmful gas emissions, to which Serbia has committed itself, but does not respect them, as well as the Paris Agreement or the Stabilization and Association Agreement signed with the EU in 2008.

Are we rich in water?

According to Iva Mraković from the Pavo na vodu Initiative, Serbia is a country that is poor in water. According to her, the goal of the new plan is to integrate water integrally, but as she adds, it does not state the way in which that could be achieved.

She also draws attention to the appearance of torrential waters on rivers during different seasons in Serbia and notes that many lakes are not registered in the cadastre.

He reminds that all the hydro hydro power plants (SHPPs) built so far in Serbia have so far produced only 1% of the electricity we need, as well as that their construction has caused numerous problems. The plan, he adds, also talks about it, but also talks about further construction of SHPPs, even in protected areas.

According to Iva Markovic, the new cadastre for SHPPs is being sent to the public in a non-transparent way as “some kind of scientific list”. She estimates that it is more reminiscent of the “catalog of sales of natural goods” for investors.

As another argument for postponing the adoption of the new plan, she cites the fact that the 1987 spatial plan for SHPPs is still current.

She thinks that it is good that the plan gives indications about the need to increase the price of water, because it is now below any valid criterion.

He reminds that Ireland decided to finance the water in that country through taxes due to the social unrest of the citizens, which was created due to its price increase. As he reminds, that solution frees citizens from paying a special bill for water.

The representative of the Right to Water Initiative also reminds that Serbia expects an extremely expensive job worth around six billion euros in the field of improving wastewater treatment. This includes the construction of a sewage treatment plant.

Public commentary on the proposal of the new Spatial Plan of Serbia, which, if adopted, should be valid until 2035, was organized by Belgrade Open School and several other civil society organizations.

Author: Cedomir Savkovic

Source: New Economy

Source: Energetski portal Srbije by www.energetskiportal.rs.

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