We did not enter private property. Drinking water has not been jeopardized. Our company is not endangering the environment and we are not breaking the law. We have all the necessary permits. The accusations are unjustified, unreasonable and influenced by individuals who do not want the best for the development and well-being of citizens, the Matkos Group executive director, Labinot Vitia said in an exclusive interview with KoSSev, after residents of Strpce presented a series of accusations against this company, which is building several mini hydroelectric power plants in the municipality of Strpce.
The Matkos Group executive director, Labinot Vitia told KoSSev that out of four MHPPs that are being built in this municipality, one MHPP has been completed and is already producing electricity, while the other three are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Vitia stressed that the company had started construction only after fulfilling all legal requirements and obtaining permits from the Ministry of Environment for construction near the riverbed, building permits issued by the municipality of Strpce, and reaching an agreement with KEDS.
“Hydroelectric power plant ‘HC Brezovica’ produces green energy, which is introduced into the network and distributed from the substation Strpce to consumers in the municipality of Strpce, and the benefits are that the energy generated and expected to be produced will meet the needs of this municipality. In case of a surplus, it will be transferred to the distribution network,” Vitia said.
When asked about the allegations presented by the Strpce residents that the Matkos Group is endangering the environment, but also breaching into the National park and private properties, Vitia emphasized that the company is not endangering the environment and that the accusations are “unjustified, unreasonable and influenced by individuals who do not want the best for the development and well-being of citizens.”
On the other hand, he claimed that the water in the river would actually be cleaner as the company is obliged to remove the collected waste.
The executive director of the Matkos Group also said that the drinking water had not been jeopardized and that the company has the permission to use the water according to the law regulating the use of water in the production of electric energy. He underlined that the company has had the necessary construction permits since 2014.
When asked to comment on the allegations presented by a Strpce resident in a recent interview with KoSSev that the company requested a permit to continue laying pipes and construct a road next to the river – a piece of land which, according to the Matkos Group, belongs to the state, but for which the locals claim is private property, Vitia said:
“We have never acted and we will never act without fulfilling all legal conditions and criteria. The requests sent to the municipality of Strpce were submitted in accordance with the law and the road infrastructure, and our request was related to laying a pipeline along the public road. We are going through the public road, not through a private property as the residents are alluding.”
He also added that according to the municipal cadastre, private property is far from the main road – which is state property.
Speaking about the accusations that the company has already entered private property in this municipality, Vitia claimed that this is “not true.”
“We were careful the entire time, and in no case did we damage private property – the property of citizens, because private property cannot be touched without the consent of owners, let alone damaged or endangered,” he said, adding that the riverbed and water resources are owned and managed by the Ministry of Environment.
These allegations are unfounded and the company will act in accordance with the legal rules and with the permission of the municipality – he added.
When asked how is it possible that works were performed, despite the 2016 decision of the Municipal Assembly to suspend works until the issue of drinking water is resolved, as well as the same decision by the Ministry and recommendation of the Ombudsman at the end of last year, including the warning of the Cadastre of the municipality of Strpce that the continuation of works near the Obe Reke site could endanger private property, Vitia said that the Matkos Group is an investment company and as such, it does not comment on decisions made by public authorities.
“After 2016, we received legal confirmation from the municipality of Strpce that work on the implementation of these projects can continue. Such decisions of the municipal assembly were challenged by the Ministry of Administration and Local Self-Government, which is responsible for assessing municipal assembly decisions,” he argued.
While the Ombudsman’s recommendations are recommendations for institutions, however, the decisions we made are in accordance with the law and we had met technical and environmental conditions from the very beginning – Vitia added.
He also underlined that they had cooperated with the locals, to whom they pointed out the importance of the projects, such as green energy production, economic impact, preservation of the environment, cleaning of rivers from discarded waste, employment of local population and tourism.
Despite the fact that the locals have been protesting against the construction of MHPPs for years, Vitija claimed that they have great communication with the majority of residents.
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