PCI

Czech Republic: High voltage power line

Source: FBS

The planned overhead line is connecting 2 existing 400 kV substations of Kon and Mrovka. It is designed to connect the nuclear power plant Temeln into the domestic transmission network. The power line will affect fifty municipalities, dramatically change face of the landscape and – located in close proximity to inhabited areas – increase health risks for local citizens. It is to be located very closely to, or directly in, number of protected areas (CHKO Blank, PP ernick obora, PP Turoveck les, PP Polnka a PP enek and several others) and there are two Natura 2000 protected areas in the close proximity of the project corridor (EVL CZ03104421 Borkovick blata, CZ0613321 Jankovsk potok). The impact on protected areas was not sufficiently assessed, and no adequate compensation measures were proposed.

The benefits of the project are doubtful. Despite the cost of about 450 mil. EUR the project does not contribute to the energetic competitiveness of the EU. There is no evidence that the project will allow the integration of energy generation from renewable sources. Rather, the investor highlights that the project will only allow the integration of a new nuclear energy source into the domestic transmission network. The project does not even qualify as PCI under the TEN-E regulation as it does not meet the criteria set in Article 4 paragraph 1 of the regulation.

There is a big opposition against the project, which is perceived as highly controversial by the public. However the public was allowed to express opinion only in domestic processes – during the EIA and land use revision. During the EIA procedure more than fifteen local authorities and seventy individuals expressed strict disapproval with the project. Additionally five petitions against the project were organized.

At the EU level the Commission carried out a public consultation, but only limited information about the project was available. At the regional level, no public standing related to PCI designation was organised.

In a J&E Case Analysis 3 projects forming part of the current Unionlist of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) in the area of energy infrastructure where analysed according to their compliance with the TEN-E Regulation and current transparency and public participation standards. The high voltage power line connecting substations of Kon and Mrovka in Czech Republic was one of them. The entire study is electronically available under: LINK

J&E Position and Recommendations

J&E recognizes the importance of developing and interconnecting energy grids in order to ensure successful implementation of the European energy policy. However, based on the current case studies, we might conclude that:

  • The regional groups in charge of drafting the initial PCI lists have failed to consult with members of the public, including publicly known opponents (even local authorities) to certain projects, when they put together the first PCI list;

  • On the EU level public participation did not compensate for the mistakes made by regional groups. Partly this may be attributed to the fact that national stakeholders did not – for whatever reason - participate at this stage;

  • Public participation in drafting the PCI list is crucial. The lack thereof can lead (and has led) to unjustified preferential treatment and allocation of public funds to harmful projects;

In order to avoid these problems in the future, J&E recommends to:

  • Ensure effective public participation on regional group level; the European Commission as the final decision-maker should take the initiative if regional groups fail to do so;

  • Provide members of the public with meaningful opportunities to participate in consultations on regional as well as on EU level, before the adoption of the final list. We urge the European Commission to pay attention to providing appropriate time-frames as well as giving proper consideration to submitted comments;

  • Include only projects that fulfil necessary criteria without reasonable doubt into the Union-wide PCI list.

J&E has communicated the above recommendations to relevant decision-makers, especially to the DG Energy. Their attitude has been forthcoming and the lay out of the second PCI designation process, which started in September2014 and will be concluded in autumn 2015 provides space for involvement of stakeholders other than project promoters, particularly NGOs. It is too early in the process to assess, whether the changes will allow for a real and effective participation, or have been mere formalities. J&E follows the process and participates in drafting the second EU-wide PCI list.

Justice & Environment, 17th November 2014