Ljubljana related

27 Oct 2019, 12:23 PM

STA, 26 October 2019 - Although quite windy, Slovenia has only two wind turbines. This may change if investors and environmentalists find common ground on the eight wind farms for which the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning is drafting national zoning plans.

In March 2018 the government decided that national zoning plans, a key document to find a location for a major new investment, is drafted for two wind farms.

Both of these are now among the eight planned by the ministry, of which three are to be built in western Slovenia and five in the east of the country.

The ministry is working on the national zoning plans in collaboration with investors and the public, but it told the STA the procedures were still in their early stages.

All the planned wind farms for which it is in charge of producing a national zoning plan will have a power rating of at least 10 megawatts, the ministry said.

The wind farms planned for the windy west are Senožeška Brda, Zajčica and Dolenja Vas. Mislinja, Paški Kozjak, Ojstrica, Rogatec and Plešivec are planned in the east.

The government would like to increase the share of energy produced from renewable sources in line with Slovenia's energy policy and climate goals.

But it is hard to say how long it will take before the first wind farm is built, especially since the plans for Ojstrica and Zajčiča have been met by strong opposition by locals.

Locals and environmentalists are usually worried about the wind farms' impact on public health and the damage that they could cause to the environment.

23 Oct 2019, 07:51 AM

STA, 22 October 2019 - Representatives of several Celje civil initiatives warned on Tuesday about excessive levels of heavy metals found in the soil in the Celje area, describing the city as "Slovenian Chernobyl" due to its various environmental issues.

The initiatives' representative Boris Šuštar said at today's press conference that results of analyses showed that, compared to the Slovenian average, attic dust in Celje contained 100 times more cadmium and 50 times more of other pollutants, including carcinogenic ones.

Heavy cadmium pollution in the area is part of the infamous legacy of chemical company Cinkarna Celje's predecessor, the old zinc factory.

Šuštar pointed out that the area of the former factory, covering 17 hectares and going nine metres deep in the ground, is polluted by a staggering amount of 1.5 million m3 of mostly toxic waste.

He believes that no other urban area in Europe is as polluted as the one in Celje, so he called for a comprehensive approach to the issue.

The initiatives also draw attention to noise pollution and dying trees in the city and its surrounding areas.

Cleaning of degraded areas in and around the city of Celje has been under way for a while, with one of the most burning issues being the polluted soil of school and kindergarten playgrounds.

The plan for this year was to clean five kindergarten playgrounds in the city, a project valued at around a million euro, with another five to be cleaned in 2020.

29 Aug 2019, 14:14 PM

STA, 29 August 2019 - The London-based oil and gas exploration company Ascent Resources will demand EUR 50 million in damages from Slovenia for delays in obtaining a permit to develop the Petišovci gas field in the north-east of the country, news portal Litigation Finance Journal reports.

As the British company said in a release on Tuesday, it is preparing "legal claims for damages against the persistent delays in permitting relating to the further development of the tight gas reservoirs in the Petišovci gas field".

Ascent also insists on its appeal against the decision of the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO) requiring an environmental impact assessment for the re-stimulation of its producing wells.

In March, ARSO decided that an environmental impact assessment will have to be made to establish whether gas extraction with hydraulic fracturing has no damaging effects on the environment.

"This is definitely a procedure which will change the physical reality of the environment," said ARSO's decision, which was also upheld by the Environment Ministry.

Ascent is also exploring possibilities to further develop the Petišovci gas field without hydraulic stimulation.

According to its press release, it is reprocessing the Petišovci 3D seismic survey acquired in 2008-2009.

It is currently interpreting preliminary data volumes in preparation for a full evaluation of the new seismic volumes, with the final data expected by mid-September.

Its CEO John Buggenhagen said the company planned to work with its partners in Slovenia to also increase production through new conventional drilling opportunities.

Ascent and its Slovenian partner Geoenergo are moreover working on documents to secure an extension of the concession for Petišovci, which is valid until 2022.

All our stories on this issue can be found here

27 Aug 2019, 10:30 AM

STA, 26 August 2019 - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek highlighted the need for Slovenia to remain at the cutting edge globally when it comes to the transition to clean energy, as she addressed the European Conference of the International Association of Energy Economics on Monday.

"Slovenia is among the best and we plan on keeping it this way," she said in reference to the country placing 6th among 125 countries in the World Energy Council's Energy Trilemma Index.

She said users will play a bigger role in energy generation in the future, as will smart grids. Public transportation will have to be strengthened and buildings insulated.

"Some of the measures are free, but in most cases the path to decarbonisation will be expensive. Financing of the transition should be the key issue," she said.

Bratušek also noted that in the transition to carbon-neutral energy sources, Slovenia will have to be mindful to keep energy accessible to all citizens.

The minister delivered the address at the 16th European Conference of the International Association of Energy Economics (IAEE), organised by the IAEE, the Ljubljana School of Economics and Business and the Slovenian Energy Economics Association.

Through Thursday, the conference will feature debates on smart solutions, the future of gas and gas infrastructure, and geopolitical issues, including relations with Russia.

All our stories on energy in Slovenia are here

26 Aug 2019, 09:37 AM

STA, 25 August 2019 - The Ljubljana wider area covers 211 square kilometres, including 62 square kilometres of forest, with the land around the city being natural habitat for various animals, including numerous bird species as well as endangered species or even those that have been already considered extinct.

Ljubljana has some 300,000 inhabitants and at least so many birds nesting in the area.

The little bittern has been spotted in the Tivoli Nature Park and in the Rožnik and Šiška hills, with the bird frequenting urban areas as well.

It is critically endangered in Slovenia or even thought to be extinct. As its name implies, it is relatively small compared to other herons.

The park's managers have come across the allegedly extinct noble crayfish species, which used to be very common in the Slovenian rivers, but suffered a major population drop due to invasive crayfish carrying the duck plague.

The area is home to almost 500 butterfly species, some 110 beetle species, around 100 bird species, including 68 who nest in the city, some 50 spider species, 36 dragonfly species, 12 various species of reptiles and 8 species of bats.

Among mammals, visitors can spot the common shrew, the southern white-breasted hedgehog, the edible dormouse, squirrels, deer and otters.

According to Marko Jonozovič of the Forest Service, the Ljubljana rural area is also home to the brown hare and pheasants, foxes, badgers and the beech marten, with introduced or invasive muskrat and nutria species living in wetlands or alongside stretches of water.

The brown bear rarely finds itself in the forests within the Ljubljana urban area - occasionally the bear enters it through the Golovec animal-friendly passageway or other highway overpasses and underpasses, but mostly it roams the south-western part of the Ljubljana Marshes where it can find enough food and enjoy some peace.

Wolves and lynx have not been present in the past few decades within the Ljubljana ring road, has said Jonozovič, though the former occasionally visit the marshes.

Meanwhile, the chamois has been spotted in the river Iška canyon, some 20km south of Ljubljana.

West of Ljubljana, near Dobrova, in the Polhov Gradec hills, the mouflon has been detected as well. Moreover, the wild boar, deer, and jackal have been known to be present in the wider forested area of Ljubljana.

Among local birds, house sparrows, blackbirds, pigeons and great tits are the most common. In the past decades, the city has witnessed increasing numbers of crows, with the birds feeling safe in the centre due to the abundance of food.

The Tivoli Nature Park and the Rožnik and Šiška hills are home to protected birds, listed on the Natura 2000 list as threatened species in Europe, such as mallard ducks, the common buzzard, the Eurasian scops owl, the black woodpecker.

Moreover, endangered species, such as the black and white stork and the jackdaw have been spotted in the park as well.

Fortunately for those taking a stroll around the park, there are no lethal snakes in the area, since vipers, which are present in Slovenia, prefer rocky terrain.

16 Aug 2019, 16:10 PM

STA, 16 August 2019 - Amid escalating tensions over action in response to a growing number of wolf attacks on farm animals in Slovenia, 13,462 people have signed a petition urging against the planned culling of bears and wolves.

The petition, initiated by the animal rights group AniMa, was handed to Environment Minister Simon Zajc on Friday to "have the voice of reason heard when it comes to man's coexistence with bears and wolves".

The initiator of the petition, Andreja Galinec, reported with disappointment after the meeting that "we failed to prevent the culling".

"The answer we received was that the culling will not be halted," Nevenka Lukić Rojšek of AniMa said.

According to the ministry, Minster Zajc stressed at the meeting the the emergency act on culling was "addressing the burning issue of bear and wolf overpopulation and was needed at this moment to get the numbers back to a level that is also favourable for the local human population".

Zajc also announced he would inquire with his ministerial colleagues in the EU if there was a chance of one of the European countries accepting Slovenian bears and wolves.

He added the issue of overpopulation and management of bear and wolf populations needed to be removed from the realm of politics and returned to experts as soon as possible.

The group had proposed that the government immediately issue a moratorium on the emergency act regulating the culling and form a task force to analyse the state of affairs and find solutions that would not be dictated by political pressure.

Urging long-term measures to preserve wildlife and protect farm animals, the group says that Slovenia needs to preserve its population of wild animals as a key to preserve the balance of nature.

"Hunters have been interfering too much in this balance, and the price is now being paid by farmers, who a while ago demanded the culling of deer because of the damage to their crops," they say.

Arguing that there are also those among "the 22,000 armed people considered hunters" who use hunting as "a profitable business and cruel entertainment at the expense of animals", they believe that hunting for deer should be restricted and much better controlled, while subsidies for farm animal production in wolf and bear habitats should be made conditional on preventive measures.

"We urge the government not to be held hostage by a small interest group that demands violent solutions now, without considering long-term consequences. Slovenia is us too who disagree with the culling of bears and wolves, and there are many of us," the petitioners say.

The number of wolf attacks on farm animals has more than doubled this year over the same period in 2018, after an NGO successfully challenged in court the government's 2018 decree ordering the removal of 175 bears and 11 wolves from the wild.

Data from the Institute for Forests show that nearly 680 animals had been attacked by the end of July, but the number has increased since as new attacks are reported almost on a daily basis.

To tackle the situation, parliament passed a law in June ordering an emergency culling, but while hunters have killed 75 bears, the complex rules have prevented them from culling any wolves yet.

Following a protest by farmers on Saturday, changes have been agreed to facilitate the culling.

There are an estimated 1,000 bears and 80 wolves in the country. Most of the wolves live in 14 packs, while some live alone.

While there have been two attacks by bears on humans so far this year, Miha Krofel of the Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty has told the STA that there is no confirmed case of a wolf hurting a human in Slovenia on record.

All our stories on bears are here, those on wolves are here

08 Aug 2019, 14:29 PM

STA, 8 August 2019 - Hazardous waste processing company Kemis will decide within 15 days whether to appeal against a decision by building inspectors to remove the facilities it has built after it was hit by a devastating fire in 2017. Nevertheless, it will stop accepting waste today, the Vrhnika-based company said in a release on Thursday.

The facilities that the chemical waste processing company renovated extensively after the May 2017 fire were found to be illegal construction.

The Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry inspectors said Kemis should have obtained a building permit for a newly-built underground water tank, which is part of an upgraded anti-fire system.

However, no building permit is required for the comprehensive renovation work Kemis undertook after the fire, which caused considerable damage to the environment.

Kemis stopped receiving waste of its business partners in Vrhnika a day after it received the decree to stop using the facilities immediately and remove them by 30 June 2020.

The firm reiterated today the entire renovation, including the construction of the underground water tank, had been carried out under constant supervision of the ministry's inspectors.

The company believes "it is highly unusual that almost two years after the renovation was launched, the same state body took a diametrically opposite decision".

Kemis relaunched full-scale operations after the fire last February, when it said it had met all the conditions from the environmental permit.

This is why it is "extremely worried" about the decree, which it labelled "an unreasonable measure".

The company also said it had processed over 13,000 tonnes of waste generated by Slovenian companies, public sector institutions and households over the last six months, which would have otherwise presented a serious risk to the environment.

Despite Kemis's making the waste processing facilities safer, Vrhnika locals and local authorities have been pushing for the firm to leave town ever since the fire.

Also worried about the latest development is the Chamber of Public Utilities at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

It fears toxic waste will start piling up at waste collection companies and at companies generating toxic waste, as was the case after the Kemis fire.

Apart from Saubermacher Slovenija, Kemis is the only major company which can process the majority of dangerous waste in Slovenia.

Chamber director Sebastijan Zupanc told the STA today that Kemis's closure could result in toxic waste accumulation around the country, which would have several smaller hot spots that would be a serious risk to public health and the environment.

He noted this was exactly what had happened two years ago when Kemis was hit by the fire. "Collection of hazardous waste almost fully stopped back then."

While some makeshift solutions were found until Kemis was back in business, "I don't know what will happen now", he added.

At the time, a smaller share of toxic waste was redirected to Saubermacher Slovenija, which told the STA today it was hard to say how much waste it could take.

It depends on the type of waste and on whether some could be exported, said director Robert Čajič, who expects companies generating or collecting waste to start turning to Saubermacher in coming days.

Zupanc stressed Slovenia had no facilities to store toxic waste for longer periods of time.

What is more, waste collection companies are banned by law from storing too much waste, risking to lose their operating licence and environmental permit.

Zupanc said Kemis had upgraded the waste-processing plant in line with the state-of-the art technologies and top-level fire security, whereas temporary storage facilities at waste collection companies are far from being that safe.

The renovation of Kemis facilities and equipment cost around EUR 6.5 million, EUR 5.5 million of which came from insurance, according to early figures from February.

Similarly worried at the inspectors' decision is the GZS, which wondered whether Slovenia is willing to risk new ecological catastrophes.

The GZS fears the decision could lead to keeping waste in inappropriate places, to dumping it illegally and processing it in an unprofessional manner.

Noting that not only industry but also households and individuals generate waste, the chamber stressed it was vital for the corporate sector to be able to ship waste to qualified companies. If that option is not available, companies could reduce output or even close shop.

The GZS thus called on the government to promptly and effectively address waste management, a sensitive issue which goes beyond the purview of the Ministry of the Environment.

03 Aug 2019, 11:10 AM

STA, 2 August 2019 - Environment Minister Simon Zajc called for coexistence between people and wolves as he visited on Friday the Cerkljansko region, where wolf attacks on livestock have become increasingly frequent. He pointed to measures that protect humans and their property from wolves.

Two attacks occurred at the same time last Sunday, which means that two packs of wolves are currently in the region.

Hunting officials have been given the green light to cull one wolf and the minister hopes that this reduction will deter any other wolves from visiting villages and attacking.

"Our task is to enable coexistence. Coexistence means that people do not live in fear, that there are possibilities for development and that we have sufficient wolf population," the minister said.

A number of measures are necessary to meet these targets, including subsidised school transport, fencing and culling, he added.

The minister noted that there had been a spike in wolf attacks on farm animals. The increase is, according to him, a result of not carrying out Administrative Court orders on culling in the past.

Wolf is a territorial animal, which moves on when the space gets scarce. The presence of wolves in the region has been proven and the population has been expanding, he said.

The authorities have expanded their monitoring area and the Environment Ministry is working on solutions in cooperation with the Agriculture Ministry.

The minister expressed confidence that experts would set an appropriate figure for culling.

During today's visit, the minister met local mayors and civil initiative representatives as well as farmers who have been affected by the attacks.

The founder of an initiative for the removal of dangerous wild animals, Ivan Mavri, said after the meeting that the organisation demanded measures that would restore a sense of security in the region, but conceded that this would not happen overnight.

According to Mavri, the locals want this area to be completely wolf-free.

Marko Gasser, one of the people who have suffered most damage during the attacks, said that a number of locals had submitted a request to the ministry to define the areas where wolves would be allowed to hunt, excluding the Gorenjska and north Primorska regions.

According to Zajc, there are currently between 88 and 100 wolves in Slovenia.

Under the law on extraordinary culling of bears and wolves, which entered into force at the end of June, a total of 62 bears have been culled so far, and no wolves, according to the national Forest Service.

The law permits the culling of 175 bears and 11 wolves, which is more than 10% of the population of both animals in Slovenia, with the service estimating the bear population at around 1,000 and the wolf population at 100.

The most of the damage is being done by wolves, which this year attacked more than 500 domestic animals, more than double compared to the same period last year.

The Forest Service dealt with a total of 406 cases of damage done by wolves this year, with the total amount being estimated at EUR 312,000.

30 Jul 2019, 11:32 AM

STA, 30 July 2019 - A plastic-free grocery shop, Rifuzl opened in the heart of Ljubljana's Šiška borough six months ago allowing customers to shop sustainably for local products and contribute to keeping the planet cleaner.

Rifuzl gets about 50 to 70 customers a day, and about the same number of curious passers-by, who come to check out the store first and return to shop later, say the founders, Primož Cigler and Manca Behrič.

"Most of our customers are young families, young mothers who only want the best for their children and want to contribute to keeping the nature intact for future generations," Cigler told the STA.

Their clients come to Rifuzl to shop from other parts of Slovenia. To save those customers a drive to Ljubljana they also plan on launching a delivery service.

"We are certainly not regretting to have taken this path. It's hard and there were moments that made us lose motivation. But happy returning customers make everything worthwhile," said Cigler.

Besides the more remote customers, the plastic-free shop has a number of local customers, who like the location and the products it offers.

"Šiška is quite densely populated and the area around Kino Šiška is fairly busy with enough parking space," said Cigler about the location's advantages.

"Most clients that have learned to shop without plastic packaging return very often. Some say they don't go to regular stores any more, because they can buy everything they need in our shop," he added.

Rifuzl sells more than 500 products, most of them food, such as rice, legumes, oatmeal, flours and pasta, along with preserves, eggs, sweets, dairy products, drinks and honey, and supplies for zero-waste life, such as glass jars, cotton bags and wooden cutlery, as well as cleaning and cosmetic products.

They get most products from local suppliers, which are the easiest to convince to supply plastic-free products. The ever-changing list of products is promptly updated and posted on their website, www.rifuzl.si, which also includes the company's presentation and manifesto, and the store can be found at Celovška cesta 111, 1000 Ljubljana.

Related: Meet the People - Neja Maruša Medved, Vegan and Zero Waste Blogger

29 Jul 2019, 18:48 PM

The UK’s Ascent Resources, often in the news in Slovenia for its long-running and so far less than successful attempts to exploit it’s Petišovci gas field with the use of hydraulic stimulation, has announced a series of cost-cutting measures and managerial changes. As reported by Morning Star, the moves are an attempt to cut costs by 50%, and are needed because of the delays to the Slovenian project. As the website notes:

In its Slovenian operations, Ascent said it will cut the number of its employees and halt "all non-essential expenditure", including its May order of compression equipment for the Pg-10 and Pg-11A wells.

The company is also changing its CEO, with Chief Operating Officer John Buggenhagen replacing Colin Hutchinson, who will stay with company on a part-time, interim basis as a finance director.

Also leaving the company's board is Cameron Davies, retiring as chair having been a company director since 2010.

The new CEO, a geophysicist who has been working in various capacities at Ascent since January of this year, said: “we continue to pursue an appeal against the Environment Ministry in Slovenia, in conjunction with our joint venture partner at Petišovci, and we are prepared to initiate legal action against the Republic of Slovenia, who we believe is in breach of European Union law.”

Shares in the company were down 12% at 0.26 pence each in London at the close of trading, Monday.

The full report can be seen here, while all our reporting on Ascent Resources is here.

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