Dabar Hydro Power Plant, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The HPP Dabar is under construction despite of irregularities in the project EIA study and active opposition by national and international NGOs and scientists.

The plan for building the Hydro Power Plant Dabar has been part of a complex and old Yugoslavian project called ‘Gornji Horizonti’ (Upper Horizons) from 1950. Although it had never been built, it is now entering again the European scene. The original project, part of which is the HPP Dabar project, was reconsidered as Bosnia have faced growing demand for clean energy; however its economic viability is being criticized. In 2013, the European Commission-backed Energy Community backed a series of projects of hydro-power plants and coal plants for the production of electricity in the candidates countries (known as Projects of Energy Community Interest (PECI)). If one looks into projects' details, it becomes clear how the EU-backed body has prioritized projects that directly conflict with EU goals. According to Bankwatch, "The selected 'Projects of Energy Community Interest' will be fast-tracked and prioritized for financing over the coming years, in particular by the EBRD and EIB. Yet several of the projects are aimed at exporting electricity rather than meeting local needs, while others will perpetuate the region's addiction to lignite power." [1] The construction of the HPP Dabar implies rerouting of the underground water from the catchment basins of the River Neretva to the basin of river Trebišnica in order to fill the reservoir. This represents a great threat to the Hutovo Blato Nature Park, one of the largest Ramsar habitats (7400 ha) of migratory birds in the Balkans, which could dry up. It will also affect the Nature Park Neretva Delta in Croatia as well as reservoirs of fresh drinkable water and vast agricultural lands in lower Neretva valley, both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Moreover, the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity has unveiled plans to build three more hydroelectric power plants with large dams (as over 150.5 meters in height) upstream from the existing plants, beginning with HPP Glavatičevo nearby Glavatičevo village, then going even more upstream HPP Bjelimići and HPP Ljubuča located near the villages with a same names [2]. The WWF International and its Bosnian branch together with local environmental and ecological NGO and scientists actively oppose this project. The construction of HPP Dabar started in 2013 and was announced to be completed in 2016. However, only the access roads were built in 2015. In December 2015, the Government of Republic of Srpska and China International Water & Electric Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding for construction of HPP Dabar. The Federal Ministry of Ecology and Tourism of B&H demanded judicial revision of the approval decision of EIA study for HPP Dabar issued by the Ministry of Physical Planning Civil Engineering and Ecology of RS. In 2016, the Supreme Court of RS confirmed the legality of such decision. The HPP Dabar construction is ongoing but at slower pace than expected. 
Basic Data
NameDabar Hydro Power Plant, Bosnia and Herzegovina
CountryBosnia and Herzegovina
ProvinceRepublic of Srpska (East Herzegovina)
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
Power = 159 MW
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Level of Investment (in USD) 234,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesElektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS) from Bosnia and Herzegovina - Former owner of 30% of HPP Dabar
Hidroelektrane na Trebišnjici (HET) from Bosnia and Herzegovina - Owner of HPP Dabar (100%)
China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWE) from China - Memorandum of understating with the Government of RS on construction of the HPP Dabar
Relevant government actorsThe Government of Republic of Srpska; The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Investment Bank (EIB)
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersWWF international; WWF Bosnia; CEE Bankwatch Network
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
OtherSpecific environmental impact: Water salinization- water for irrigation in the Neretva delta already contains 2,000 mg of salt per liter, for the comparison freshwater contains 350 and sea water from 3,000 to 4,000 mg per liter.
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesThe WWF International and it is Bosnian branch demand respect of EU directives in the process of construction of HPP Dabar including previous research and involvement of the wider community in the project preparation phase.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The construction work on HPP Dabar is ongoing. Although it was expected to be finished in 2016 the completion of the project was postponed due to slow progress.
Sources and Materials

Ramsar Convention

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[1] Bankwatch "EU-backed energy projects will harm people and the environment in the Western Balkans"
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Energy Community website
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Power market
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Serbia Energy Republika Srpska: HPP Dabar 160MW construction works started
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Neretva-river in peril blog
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[2] Neretva Wiki
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List of projects of Energy Community Interest (PECI)
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Hidroelektrana Dabar
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Hutovo blato - prirodno blago kojem prijeti nestanak
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Udruženja iz regije protiv HE Dabar i Dubrovnik II
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Za dokapitalizaciju HE »Dabar« 20 miliona KM
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Zbog Trebišnjice i HE Dabar prijeti nestanak Hutovog blata
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HE ''Dabar'' mogla bi ozbiljno ugroziti Hutovo blato
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Power plant threat to Bosnia oasis
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HET postao jedini vlasnik HE “Dabar”
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Započeo projekt HE Dabar i pored prijetnji opstanku Stoca i Donje Neretve
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Višemilionska pljačka naroda Hercegovine
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Vrhovni sud RS: Zakonita studija o uticaju HE "Dabar" na životnu sredinu
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Kinezi ulaze u trku za gradnju HE Dabar
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Media Links

Hutovo blato - prirodno blago kojem prijeti nestanak
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Other Documents

Map of proposed HHP on the Neretva basin Source: http://neretva-riverinperil.blogspot.com.es/p/he-na-neretvi-planirane.html
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Other CommentsA local official in charge of rural development in Bosnia, estimates that the annual profit of 30 million euros from selling electricity produced in new plants would be the same as from the tangerine plantations in the region.
Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update17/06/2016