STA, 17 June 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec agreed with an opposition MP during questions time in parliament on Monday that Slovenia should not allow small environmental groups halt developmentally and environmentally important projects. He proposes that the Environment Ministry draw up legislation to prevent this.
"Protecting the environment is important, but stopping every project will also not get us far," the prime minister told MPs, adding that Slovenia would have to decide where it would obtain energy from.
Šarec was responding to a question by Dušan Šiško of the opposition National Party (SNS) on the latest in a series of projects that faced opposition from environmental groups.
After the government aborted plans to build hydro power stations on the river Mura in the north-east at the end of May, the latest project stopped by environmentalists is the construction of the Mokrice plant in the south-eastern part of the Sava river.
The Austrian-Canadian automotive multinational Magna Steyr also faced strong opposition from environmentalists before it could build a paint shop in Hoče, north-east.
Referring to the Mokrice case, in which a small, six-member NGO, the Society for Fish Watching, managed to halt the EUR 200 million project by launching an appeal at the Administrative Court, Šiško asked the PM how long will environmental and other groups be able to obstruct investments of national importance.
"We are letting small groups for reasons that are not clear halt developmentally and environmentally important projects under the pretence of environmental protection.
"The state has clearly made a mistake by allowing every group which has a status of a public interest group to take part in procedures and actually work against public interest," Šiško said.
Šarec noted the government had moved to protect Mura, as promised, and would protect a lot more, but "that's not enough for some". "Every day I get mail from different initiatives to stop this and that construction, close TEŠ 6 and Krško. I agree this is not the way to go about things," he said.
Šarec thinks the Environment Ministry should prepare legislation that would specify which organisations serve the public interest to introduce some restrictions as to who can act as a stakeholder.
He said common sense should be used when addressing environmental issues. "Even the fiercest environmentalists use mobile phones, cars and other modern technology. All these use electricity in a direct or indirect way," he said.
"We're always moving from one extreme to the other. We used to not care about the environment at all, and now we want to protect it so much that we are causing damage to ourselves," he said.
Wind power plants are widespread everywhere around the world, only in Slovenia "birds and butterflies apparently don't know how to fly pass them", Šarec illustrated.