Ljubljana related

25 Aug 2022, 11:57 AM

STA, 24 August 2022 - More than 50 scientists have made an appeal to the government to annul the decision by its predecessor that the public interest of producing renewable energy overrides the public interest of nature conservation in the Mokrice hydropower station project.

"We ask for a professionally and legally consistent reconsideration of the (un)reasonableness of encroaching on nature at the confluence of the Sava, Krka and Sotla rivers," reads the appeal, signed by representatives of natural sciences, including biochemist Tamara Lah Turnšek and researchers Darja Stanič and Al Vrezec.

They believe the government, in prioritising the interest of energy, "failed to take into consideration the legal provision stipulating that natural resources, especially water resources, may not be degraded or destroyed if there are other less harmful options".

Such an approach "is not in the interests of Slovenian citizens and is distinctly contrary to the interests of the future generations". They say that short-term political or capital interests should not prevail in decisions that have a damaging or destructive impact on nature.

The signatories believe the deliberation of which public interest prevails in this case or the assessment of better solutions at the national level have not been conducted, as the procedures concerned have not been carried out in the actual process of adopting the Renewable Energy Action Plan or in the context of the comprehensive National Energy and Climate Plan. The latter does not foresee the construction of large hydropower plants until 2030.

They refer to a decision by the EU Court, which they say has set forth that the absence of better solutions for nature had to be proven, which they said the government failed to do satisfactorily at the national level in the case of the Mokrice plant.

Instead, the signatories support accelerating the construction of unit 2 of the Krško nuclear power plant. "Once the unit is operational, expectedly around 2035, there will be enough electricity in Slovenia and strategic projections show the country will have become a net electricity exporter," the appeal reads, adding that nuclear power plants have a very small carbon or biodiversity prints and that with the second reactor in place hydropower stations will no longer be needed.

As the second key energy potential they see solar power plants of all sizes.

The Administrative Court has recently decreed that the planned Mokrice hydropower station on the river Sava cannot get a building permit until it has ruled on legal action brought against the project by the Slovenian Native Fish Society.

12 Aug 2022, 16:14 PM

STA, 12 August 2022 - An environmental organisation has lost a legal battle against the Environment Ministry's decision to allow the culling of 222 brown bears in Slovenia this year, by the end of September.

In a decision taken on 16 June, the Administrative Court ruled the lawsuit by Alpe Adria Green was unwarranted. The judgement is non-appealable.

The decision to allow the culling of 222 brown bears by 30 September was issued by the Environment Ministry in February but was stayed by the court in March pending its decision on Alpe Adria Green's appeal.

The organisation argues that every such culling permit is illegal and that under Slovenian and international legislation it is permitted to cull only those bears that have been proven to have attacked humans or to be jeopardising people or property.

The court based its decision on the hearing of two Ljubljana Faculty of Biotechnology professors, who were both involved in the expert opinion that was one of the basis for the culling permit.

The Best Way to Photograph Bears in Slovenia

With the culling the country's brown bear population would be reduced from an estimated 1,000 to around 800 animals.

The court found the planned culling would not "harm the maintenance of a favourable conservation status of the bear population in Slovenia".

It rejected the argument that the interest of the protection of human health could be achieved by individual culls and said the planned culling was warranted duo to increased number of human-bear conflicts as a result of the density of the bear population.

Alpe Adria Green and an animal rights society AniMa disagree with such a position, noting that the court failed to consider data on hunting tourism and public promotion of culinary offerings of bear meat.

05 Aug 2022, 10:50 AM

STA, 4 August 2022 - The peak of the tourist season at Lake Bled resulted in large quantities of malodorous waste being washed off into the only outlet from the lake, the local environmental organisation has warned, adding that the Sava Bohinjka river is also full of algae. This resulted in the nearby fish farm having to euthanise thousands of fish due to poisoning.

The Environmental Protection Organisation Bled (Društvo za varstvo okolja Bled) said in a press release on Thursday that huge amounts of sewage flowed from the local wastewater treatment plant into the Jezernica creek, the only outlet from Lake Bled.

"The creek is very much like a sewer tunnel, the water being brown and muddy, and tree branches at the banks are drooping due to the weight of sanitary sewer water," it added.

There is a spillway mounted on the tunnel leading into the Jezernica, however it can only catch large pieces of waste and if water levels are high waste material spills back into the creek.

This affects the Sava Bohinjka, which the Jezernica flows into, and where a large algae population has developed. This led to all 25,000 fish kept by the Radovljica Angling Club at the confluence with the Sava dying two weeks ago due to poisoning.

This is yet another fish die-off in Slovenia, after around a tonne and a half of fish died in Mali Graben, and 50 kilos in Homška Mlinščica in July. Two fish die-offs also occurred in June, one in Nanošica and the other in Vrtojbica in the west.

The Kranj police investigators have also inspected the area and took samples for analysis.

Waste being spilled into the waters is a direct consequence of the Bled sewer system being overloaded, say the locals, while the municipality maintains the wastewater treatment plant is functioning as it should.

Anže Bizjak, CEO of the local utility company that operates the Bled sewer system, said last year that the smelly foam collecting at the Lancovo dam was a result of low water levels and diminished water flow. That is why river algae have started to grow.

He also added that faecal matter coming out of the treatment plant is diluted to the extent that it does not exceed parameters set in the plant's environmental permit.

Recently, many of those visiting Bled have reported gastrointestinal issues, likely caused by polluted water, noted the Environmental Conservation Organisation. They have notified the National Institute for Public Health about the outburst.

01 Aug 2022, 16:53 PM

STA, 29 July 2022 - The Administrative Court decreed that the planned Mokrice hydropower station on the river Sava cannot get a building permit until it has ruled on legal action brought against the project by the Slovenian Native Fish Society.

Announcing the decision on Friday, the society said it was important because it blocked the investors' plan to obtain a partial building permit from the Ministry and Spatial Planning and start with the plant's construction despite their legal challenge.

Mokrice, located near the border with Croatia, is the last hydro plant to be built on the lower Sava, four having already been completed as part of a project started 16 years ago. Under initial plans the Mokrice plant was slated for completion as early as 2018.

The investors - state-owned companies HESS, Infra and ELES - can appeal against the court's decision but the society says the Administrative Court has warned them that "hard to repair damage" to nature that could be caused by such a project can only be prevented so that the ministry does not issue a building permit until the court's final ruling, while it can continue with the administrative procedure to issue such a permit.

In its decision the court refers to case law, that is the rulings already reached by the Administrative Court and Supreme Court in the Mokrice plant case.

This is the second time that the Slovenian Native Fish Society is challenging the project after the former government decided that the public interest of producing renewable energy overrides the public interest of nature conservation in the Mokrice hydro power project.

This was after the Administrative Court in late 2021 overturned the ministry's original decision of December 2020 on the grounds that the environmental impact assessment procedure must be completed before the public interest procedure may by initiated.

The Janez Janša government took the decision on 20 May this year, after it has already been voted out in the election, which the society finds is problematic even from the aspect that the government was by then relegated to its caretaker role when it should have no longer taken such decisions.

They say the decision does not include "many of the expert bases and basic ichthyological studies, the lack of which had already been pointed out in the Administrative Court's previous ruling".

The society finds it unacceptable that a free flowing river should be ruined to produce electricity, arguing that in optimal conditions the plant would generate electricity equalling only 1% of the country's annual consumption.

They also are disappointed because the Robert Golob government has backed the project as well.

An appeal to annul the previous government's decision was also made by the Youth for Climate Justice earlier this month but incumbent Environment Minister Uroš Brežan said the project was a step in the right direction in view of climate neutrality goals and it also considered nature conservation.

12 Jul 2022, 11:12 AM

STA, 12 July - Slovenia's capital has placed 279th among 344 European cities in the European city air quality viewer with its air quality categorised as poor. Maribor ranks 207th having moderately clean air.

The ranking, released on the website of the European Environment Agency, classifies cities from the cleanest to the most polluted on the basis of average levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, over the past two calendar years.

The list is topped by Umea, Sweden, followed by Faro and Funchal in Portugal, with all other cities whose air quality is categorised as good located in North Europe. The annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter in those cities does not exceed the annual guideline value of the World Health Organisation of 5 micrograms per cubic metre.

Ranked lower down on the list are cities whose air quality is categorised as fair (up to 10 micrograms/m3), moderate (up to 15 micrograms/m3), poor (up to 25 micrograms/m3) and finally very poor, the cities whose levels are at or above the EU limit value of 25 micrograms/m3.

Placing 279th, Ljubljana ranks slightly above its Croatian counterpart Zagreb, in 282nd, but below the Hungarian capital of Budapest, in 268th, or the Croatian port city of Rijeka, in 155th, for example.

The cities with the poorest air quality are Italy's Padua and Cremona and Nowy Sazc in Poland. Venice places 341st, which makes it the lowest ranked city among those whose air quality is categorised as poor rather than very poor.

Explore all the data here

28 Apr 2022, 16:18 PM

STA, 28 April 2022 - Eight Slovenian cities applied for the European Commission's Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities 2030 Mission, and three of them, Ljubljana, Kranj and Velenje, have been chosen to participate in the project, featuring in total 100 cities.

Ajdovščina, Izola, Maribor, Nova Gorica and Ormož also applied from Slovenia but they were not chosen. Due to the high level of interest - 377 cities wanted to participate - support would also be offered to those that were not selected.

In addition to cities from the EU, the Commission has selected 12 more cities from the countries linked to the EU's Horizon Europe research and innovation project.

The project will receive EUR 360 million in 2022-2023 through the Horizon Europe programme. Promoting alternative fuel vehicles, public transport, car sharing and green roofs, it will encourage the participants to become climate neutral by 2030.

The Commission finds it important to encourage the cities to work together to help others become climate neutral by 2050 given the significant carbon footprint of urban areas.

Learn more about the project

06 Apr 2022, 13:06 PM

STA, 5 April 2022 - A dozen Slovenian companies have developed an innovative net zero-energy house that can serve as a home and a workplace. With the smart appliances and fittings linked into a cloud it can be monitored and managed remotely.

The model Dom24 (Home24) was put on display on Tuesday at the headquarters of Marles, Slovenia's oldest and largest maker of prefabricated homes, in Limbuš near Maribor.

"Home24 is the optimal combination of energy self-sufficiency, environmentally sustainable construction and modern technological solutions," said Marles CEO Matej Vukmanič at the inauguration ceremony, which featured President Borut Pahor.

Apart from Marles, the project also includes Gorenje, Petrol, Helios, Alples, Danfoss, Robotina, Eti, Jub, Intectiv, Smartis and Špica.

The companies, each of which developed innovative solutions in its own field, have invested EUR 12 million in the project with the Economy Ministry and European Regional Development Fund chipping in a grant of EUR 5 million.

Marles official Bogdan Božac said the idea back in 2018 was to make a home in which people could spend 24 hours a day, meaning they could also work in it. "Then came the Covid-19 pandemic and showed how visionary our idea had been."

Home24 gets its power from the sun through an integrated photovoltaic plant and any excess electricity is stored in the integrated storage battery or fed into the grid. It provides a two-way connection to community energy systems and can operate efficiently on its own or as a smart community unit.

It combines environmentally-friendly building materials, superinsulation, an innovative ventilation system, highly efficient heat recovery, and special paints and coatings to control humidity. The home also includes ceiling heating and cooling and a charging station for electric vehicles.

See more about this project

04 Apr 2022, 11:38 AM

STA, 1 April 2022 - Slovenia is among the five European countries with the highest recorded concentrations of the PM 2.5 fine particulate matter, shows the latest annual assessment of air quality by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The report includes the official data for 2020 and provisional data for 2021 on concentrations of key air pollutants measured at more than 4,500 measuring stations in 37 European countries.

The report says that 96% of the population of European cities was exposed in 2020 to concentrations of the PM 2.5 fine particulate matter that exceed the annual value of five micrograms per m3 recommended by of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The highest concentrations of PM 2.5 in EU member states were observed in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia.

In Slovenia, values between 11 and 17 micrograms of PM 2.5 particulates per m3 were measured at four measuring points - in Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje and Nova Gorica.

According to the EEA, the higher concentrations of particulate matter in these countries are mainly a result of burning of solid fuels such as coal and wood for heating in households and the use of fossil fuels in industrial production.

You can explore the data for cities around the EU here

01 Feb 2022, 17:45 PM

STA, 1 February 2022 - Ljubljana is among the capital cities with the highest ratings in Europe in terms of urban tree cover and total green infrastructure, while it is sub-par in terms of public access to the city's abundant green spaces, shows a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on Tuesday.

High-quality public green and blue spaces and infrastructure in cities, like parks, gardens, riverbanks and coastlines, are crucial for health and well-being, said the EEA briefing.

It also shows that access to such spaces differs in cities across Europe. Green infrastructure made up on average 42% of the city area in 38 EEA member countries, according to the latest data available.

In terms of the percentage of urban tree cover and total green infrastructure, Ljubljana ranked third among the EEA members' capital cities in both indicators with 67% and 50%, respectively.

The only cities with more urban tree cover were Oslo (72%) and Bern (53%), while only Oslo and Zagreb have overtaken Ljubljana in terms of total green infrastructure with 77% and 74%, respectively.

Data shows that average urban tree cover for cities in 38 EEA countries stood at 30%, with cities in Finland and Norway having the highest proportion of tree cover, while cities in Cyprus, Iceland and Malta had the lowest.

Meanwhile, publicly accessible green areas still form a relatively low proportion of total green space in cities, estimated at only 3% of the total city area on average. Ljubljana ranked below the EEA average with just 1%, trailed only by Iceland's Reykjavik.

More on this story…

31 Jan 2022, 15:27 PM

STA, 31 January 2022 - Farmers have been pointing out the serious damage caused by wild animals, as the Slovenian Forest Service (ZGS) estimates that it amounts to between EUR 400,000 and EUR 800,000 per year. The most affected region is Pomurje in the north-east, and the damage is most often caused by wild boars and deer.

The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry has recently issued warnings of damage in agriculture caused by wild animals, particularly boars, saying that this is already threatening the survival of farms in certain cases.

The chamber expects hunters to continue the intensive culling and the state to take appropriate action, which was also the message it sent to Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek, who responded by urging the chamber to report the damage.

The ZGS's data for the last decade show that the amount of damage is fluctuating. The statistics are strongly dominated by agricultural damage, with additional smaller proportions of damage to forests and other property, the forest service said.

In the period between 2011 and 2020, annual damage reports were between EUR 424,000 in 2016 to almost EUR 788,000 in 2013. The ZGS added that data for last year was unavailable as of yet, but the damage was expected to be among the highest in recent years.

The Agriculture Ministry's data on compensation paid out for damage since 2001 show that the amounts paid out were below EUR 462,000 per year until 2007, while they have been well above this amount on several occasions since 2008.

Wild boar and deer usually cause the most damage - in the period between 2011 and 2020, boars accounted for an estimated 64% of all damage, deer for 32% and all other wildlife species for a total of 4%.

The situation is the worst in the north-eastern region of Pomurje, which accounted for 55% of all assessed wildlife damage caused in Slovenia in 2020.

However, these amounts do not include damage caused by protected species such as brown bears, wolves or birds, which fall under the responsibility of the Environment Ministry.

The ZGS assessed that brown bears had caused around EUR 204,000 in damages last year, followed by songbirds with around EUR 191,000 and wolves with approximately EUR 83,000.

A total of 148 brown bears were culled in Slovenia last year, of which 128 were hunted. The total amount of wolves removed last year was six, out of which three were culled in accordance with valid permits.

No culling of wolves is planned for this year, unless the Environment Ministry finds it necessary under certain circumstances, like in the event of repeated attacks by wolves on domestic animals, which could lead to serious damage to people's property.

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