What has been done to poor rural households with derivative SHPPs is the same as if the occupants of one building, regardless of the number of floors, had their water cut off, or if a medical council claimed that a person could function with only 10% of their lung capacity.
The key link in the chain of abuse of natural resources, in my opinion, is the profession or professional knowledge (or ignorance) and / or, even more devastatingly, the loss of ethical standards and the submissive mentality of the profession.
The profession in both Europe and the United States has uncritically accepted the concept of derivative SHPPs as one of the possible sources of the so-called Green energy. From the beginning, the profession had to know that taking water and guaranteeing the so-called biological minimum (or 10% of the flow of the minimum amount of water in the watercourse) would mean a definite extinction of any wildlife in the river. Expert analyses have also completely ignored the impact on the social and economic environment – these hilly and mountainous areas with small but fast watercourses are inhabited, as a rule, by poor and elderly households, with low incomes and small farms, which simply cannot survive without that water source. Not to mention the consequences a lack of water can have on forests, wildlife and other nature. The question is why the profession gave the green light to the construction of derivative SHPPs. In my opinion, the explanation should be sought either in the irresponsibility of the profession, or in ignorance, or in the annulment of the ethical dimension of professional work, or in the submissive mentality. Or in all of the above.
What has been done to poor rural households with derivative SHPPs is the same as if the occupants of one building, regardless of the number of floors, had their water cut off or if a medical council claimed that a person could function with 10% of their lung capacity.
When the disastrous impact of derivative SHPPs on the environment and social environment was proven, the legally regulated states stopped those projects. According to the data of the Faculty of Forestry in Belgrade, more than a thousand derivative SHPPs were destroyed in the USA, and about 400 in Europe between 1993 and 2017.
In Serbia, giving up the construction of new and demolition of already built derivative SHPPs will be much more difficult and uncertain. A combination of ‘business’ (meaning: pillaging under the protection of the state and political nomenclatures) and politics (meaning: reckless appropriation of public goods, destruction and endangerment of other people’s private property) has been established, whose actors receive millions of euros in state donations as they are ‘subsidised producers of electricity from renewable sources’. These fees are duly paid by all citizens through their electricity bills, of course. The legitimacy of the combination of ‘business’ and politics was ensured by licensed experts employed in urban institutes, institutes for nature protection, and scientific institutes who unscrupulously produce studies with fake and incomplete environmental impact assessments. No derivative SHPP could be built without first obtaining an expert analysis, drafting a project and obtaining expert consent. Nevertheless, it seems that no expert will lose their license as a consequence of working on a project / study with hidden, incomplete or falsified data, because professional associations and chambers are para-state (or more precisely para-party) organisations with absolutely no autonomy and professional integrity.
Today, in Serbia united citizens showing resistance is the only way to stop further construction of derivative SHPPs, and to demolish those already built. Citizens who are directly endangered, and even more those who promote civil responsibility for the public good and public interest, and the right to civil disobedience to policies and decisions that produce public damage. United citizens are the only barrier to the public damage that political nomenclatures ruthlessly produce with their servile experts.
Ksenija Petovar, retired tenured professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Geography, University of Belgrade. Areas of her professional work include: assessments of the impact of major projects in the energy, road and water infrastructure, and surface mining sectors on the local population and communities.