Press Release of the Group of Environmental Organizations regarding the Decision Making for the Construction of Vlora International Airport in the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area (9 February 2021)

Press Release of the Group of Environmental Organizations regarding the Decision Making for the Construction of Vlora International Airport in the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area (9 February 2021)
Grouping of Local Environmental Organizations, following the open letter addressed to Prime Minister Rama, on February 1, 2021 (letter link) foreigners wants to react again today to the statement of Minister Klosi on February 4, 2021, about the debate between civil society and the Albanian government regarding the decision to build the international airport of Vlora Minister Klosi, in this interview, describes the debate on Vlora International Airport as untrue, emphasizes that the trace of the proposed airport is located on an area that has historically been an airport, further adds that the Vjosa-Narta area is not a protected area but Landscape Protected and finally refers to the meeting of the Territorial Control Council (KKT) for a decision that ensures the continuity of Vlora airport within the Vjosa-Narta Protected area. In the following, as we have pointed out in the letter dated February 1, 2021, addressed to Prime Minister Rama, environmental organizations address the following facts: The debate on the proposed Vlora airport is not untrue! On the contrary, it is one of the strongest debates on nature protection in Albania since 1990! The grouping of environmental associations emphasizes: first of all that the decision-making for Vlora International Airport is one of the strongest environmental debates since the installation of democracy in Albania. The government wants to build an airport within the surface of the Vjosa-Narta protected area. This area is also the Main Biodiversity Area, Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, Candidate Area for the Emerald Network, and the proposed Natura 2000 site. pilgrimage to the Eastern Adriatic. The associations are sure that this investment is devastating not only for the Vjosa-Narta area but also for the entire ecological network of coastal wetland protected areas that today provide very good incomes for local residents and tourism in Albania. The environmental impact of the proposed Vlora Airport is completely different and much stronger than the impact of a non-functional fighter jet runway! The former Akernia “airport” has been non-functional since the 1990s. Even before this period, the airport in question was only a sporadically used runway for a very small number of non-civilian flights. Meanwhile, the proposed airport of Vlora is of international level, much larger than the airport of Rinas. Consequently the impact of this new airport is radically different from a non-functional aircraft runway. Vlora Airport is today part of the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area! Contrary to what Minister Klosi said, the track of Vlora airport is part of the Vjosa Nartë Protected Area. Based on Article 14 of Law 81/2017 “On Protected Areas”, the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape is one of the categories of protected areas in Albania, respectively their 5th category. So the airport is proposed to be built on an area that is part of the system of protected areas of Albania . KKT’s decision for the continuation of Vlora Airport in the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area is unofficial and non-transparent! Minister Klosi states that the Territorial Control Council has taken a decision on the continuity of Vlora airport within the Vjosa-Narta protected area. If the decision speaks of continuity, it is null from the legal point of view, because Law 81/2017 “On Protected Areas” does not provide for decisions of the TAC on the continuity of land uses. Most likely, the Minister refers to an unbleached, ie unofficial decision, to change the surface of the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area by removing the airport surface from the system of protected areas in Albania. If this is true we are dealing with a non-transparent decision-making. The right to change the surface, Article 36 of & nbsp; Law 81/2017 is given to the Council of Ministers upon the proposal of the Minister. And change must be preceded by public consultation and opinions of scientific institutions. To date, we, the interested public, are not aware of any decision of the Council of Ministers, not even a public consultation for this purpose and even less of the positive opinion from the scientific institutions of the country. Based on these facts, the group of 15 environmental organizations would like to emphasize once again that the debate on decision-making regarding Vlora Airport is fundamental to nature protection in Albania. sustainable country and economic development of the area. Therefore, civil society is ready to discuss with government experts other locations that do not have such strong environmental impacts. This discussion or consultation process should be transparent and in full respect of environmental legislation especially that of protected areas, biological diversity, strategic environmental assessment for the transport plan, assessment of the deep environmental impact of an international airport and obligations of Albania to respect international conventions on wildlife. Civil society takes the opportunity to reiterate that any decision to date on the proposed Vlora airport has not been transparent. This lack of transparency gives environmental organizations the right to administrative and judicial appeal. Finally, environmental organizations remain awaiting a response from the government regarding the letter dated 1 February 2021 addressed to the Prime Minister of the country, Mr. Rama for the reconsideration of the location of the South Airport. Organizations are against the construction of the airport & nbsp; & nbsp; in the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area. & nbsp; Albanian Wildlife Rescue Team World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Adria) Ekolëvizja Group, Albania Institute of Environmental Policy, Albania (IEP) Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania (INCA) FOUR PAWS Milieukontakt Albania Environmental Resource Center (REC), Albania Environmental Center for Development, Education and Networking (EDEN), Albania Center for the Protection of Natural Ecosystems in Albania (EcoAlbania) Center for Preservation and Protection of the Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) Birds of Albania Center Albanian Ornithological Association (AOS) Albanian Association for the Protection of Birds and Mammals (ASPBM) Environmental and Social Development and Development Association-ILIRIA, Albania
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