New protests took place this week pushing the government on its promises to halt a boom in environmentally-damaging projects across the region.
The region’s extensive network of waterways have been eyed for years as having hydroelectric potential, which originally led to plans for nearly 3,000 plants, around a third in environmentally-protected areas.
Critics have warned that the wholesale exploitation of rivers would damage both natural habitats and drinking water supplies, as well as impacting on other local industries.
In November campaigners thought won a major victory when the government started drafting a new law blocking new plants in protected areas, slated for its first hearing in parliament this month.
NGOs are arguing that such bans should cover up to three-quarters of all rivers in the region.
But concerns remain about the level of corporate pressure for new dams to happen and the extent to which any protections will be realistically applied, especially as projects continue to be pushed elsewhere in the Balkans.
In Serbia itself, a recent visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin has inked a deal on hydroelectric expansion while on January 24th neighbouring Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic announced another two plants to be built by State-controlled body ERS.
And just last week there were protests in Strpce, south Kosovo as excavation started for a mini-hydropower plant. Energy firm Matkos Group has five planned projects in the area including the Obe Reke plant and has refused to publicly produce its permissions. Local police were nevertheless sent out to clear the protesters.