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26 March 2015

Romanian water authorities destroy protected Natura 2000 habitats without permission along the Niraj/Nyárad River

Milvus Group – Romanian CEEweb member – has Wednesday last week woke up to some terrible news: local water authorities have begun regulating works along the Niraj/Nyárad River completely disregarding the provisions included in the permission issued last year. The authority works according to the outdated flood management plan dating back to 1989 which obviously does not include aspects of EU water and biodiversity legislation. The plan doesn’t consider biodiversity as such and the fact that this part of the river has been declared a N2000 site since than.niraj

A few machines have appeared in the Niraj/Nyárad coast and river regulation works started. The water authority did not consult with the local governments and the local Natura 2000 guardianship (who need to issue permits). The machines have begun to widen the riverbed, devastated coastal habitats, felled trees, etc. The on-site visitors were welcomed by an almost lunar landscape that didn’t reminded in any way the once rich, lush and green Niraj banks.

Earlier, the water authorities turned to the Natura 2000 Guardianship for permission which  issued a permit last year with conditions (Milvus Group is part of the Guardianship). Conditions included that trees larger than 20 centimeter diameter cannot be cut; no works can take place between March and August, no dredging of the riverbed, replanting of certain tree species on the shore, and all works being monitored by biologist. The permit also included some additional suggestions: restoring four of the Niraj oxbows, letting some areas being flooded during floods, rock stones reinforcement instead of concrete shore protection in areas where it is not warranted, etc. Milvus was about to start to draw up a biodiversity-friendly alternative river management plan with the support of the Michael Otto Fund and CEEweb in 2015.

Milvus Group believes that if works continue, a natural disasters will occur in the Niraj/Nyárad. Villages along the river fear of decreasing water table and other negative environmental consequences that they experienced on the upper parts of the River, where the water authorities have already completed water development works according to the outdated plans. They are also afraid to lose their natural heritage which is still a very an important part of local culture.

The Guardianship of the Natura 2000 area has published a notice of protest condemning the destruction, and distances himself from this kind of “flood management work”. On Wednesday they revoked the licenses they issued last year and the notified the county environmental agencies and ministries as well.

Original source: http://www.szekelyhon.ro/aktualis/marosszek/letaroljak-a-nyarad-parti-elettereket