Elbasan: When NGOs and media monitor the EIA

On July 14th, 2017 Milieukontakt Albania organized the training “Horizontal Legislation and Monitoring of Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIA)” financially supported by the project "Civil Society Acts for Environmentally Sound Socio-Economic Development" (CO-SEED) funded by European Union and implemented by Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania.

In the training were present representatives of environmental organizations in Elbasan and Pogradec, students, representative of inspectorate of environment in Elbasan Municipality and local media.

The most important issue that are discussed in the training were

The main principles of environmental legislation as well as the right to address the Court  

 EIA procedures being viewed from the perspective of horizontal legislation

       Methods of monitoring environmental permit 

After the presentations prepared by Milieukontakt Albania on practicing EIAs at all stages of implementing a project, on the way how to proceed in the perspective of horizontal legislation, experience brought by the representative of the Ministry of Environment and expert, very important part of the training was also the discussion on concrete individual cases followed by private actors in the city of Elbasan. Poor co-ordination among institutions as well as insufficient information disseminated during and after the preparation of EIA, the lack of monitoring or fines for not completing standards during the implementation of various private activities in the district of Elbasan was a matter of concern for all participants in the training.

During the discussions were also addressed issues of forest concession. Facts brought by environmental NGOs show that the concessionaires not only do not comply with the conditions of the contract, but there are also cases where fires in the forest try to hide damages occurred during the concession period.

Another concern for the citizens of Elbasan was the ferrochrome plant, located on ex-metallurgical area. The inspectorate of environment of the Elbasan Municipality, during the inspection in the plant, noticed that the contaminated waters of this plant not only did not pass in any treatment facility, but they were discharged in the degraded pipeline of the former metallurgical factory. At the end the waters were ending in the lands planted by the farmers of the area.

These are some of the environmental problems of Elbasan, but the lack of competences does not allow intervention or fines by the local administration. They can only monitor, while fines or closing of the activity with type A of environmental permit is a competence of Ministry of Environment (National Environment Agency) and only type C permits is the competence of local government.

At the end of the training, all the participants came to the joint conclusion, where a coordinated cooperation between the respective institutions, local government, environmental organizations and media through all the EIA process would prevent and improve environmental damage. Also, all participants agreed to organize a field visit near the waste incinerator plant in the city of Elbasan. The plant is the first of its kind in the country for the treatment of urban waste, located at the waste disposal site near the former metallurgical Factory of Elbasan. Every year the city generates about 120-140 tons of solid urban waste.

The project aims to contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources by improving the regulatory framework and fostering wider participation and transparency in environmental decision-making processes and to increase media attention in this area.

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