An Armenian government session approved today a set of amendments to the Water Code, providing for tougher guidelines for the construction of small hydropower plants (HPP).
Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources Minister Erik Grigoryan said the amendments include the list of rivers, including those in which rare species of fish listed in the Red Book spawn, on which construction of small hydropower plants will be banned.
“The construction of small hydropower plants will be prohibited on rivers, where more than 40% of the water flow goes through the pipes. Today there are rivers where the figure is more than 50%,” Grigoryan said.
According to the minister, construction will be limited also on certain sections of rivers that are located in forest areas, as well as near nature monuments. He noted that the law is not aimed at banning the construction of new hydropower plants, but at regulating their operation and increasing electricity generation.
He said the operation of the existing small hydropower plants has caused serious environmental problems, affecting not only the volume of water flow in rivers, but also the environment and the fish population.
He said the new amendments will not have retroactive effect and will not apply to already granted licenses.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan added that these amendments are not aimed against business, but are designed to help prevent environmental disasters. He added that if necessary, law enforcement agencies should also be involved in monitoring the situation, but the process should not be accompanied by a redistribution of property.
“It is necessary to create an atmosphere of cooperation for solving two issues – the stable operation of small hydropower stations and development of a road map for preventing environmental disasters and restoration of legality,” he said.