VOA: Amid objections from environmentalists, the works at Vlora Airport continue
Two years after November 2021, when the construction of the Vlora Airport began, the works are continuing at a high pace in the construction of the service buildings, while the two runways where the planes will land have been completed.
This year, the construction of the segment from the Fier-Vlora national road towards the airport has started, and the government has approved in the 2024 budget another funding for the completion of the works on this road.
The Albanian government has so far ignored the reactions of environmental organizations and a recommendation of September of this year of the Berne Convention for the suspension of the works for the Vlora airport until a new environmental impact assessment is carried out.
The Berne Convention, also known as the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, is an international binding legal instrument in the field of nature protection and conservation. Albania signed this Convention in 1995 and it entered into force in May 1999.
Two months ago the Alliance for the Protection of Mediterranean Wetlands, a group of organizations for the protection of the environment, sent a letter to the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, the European Commission and the International Air Transport Organization (IATA), where they request the suspension of the construction of the Vlora airport. in the Narta Lagoon. The letter was signed by 33 environmental organizations from at least 27 countries in the region.
Meanwhile, the Tirana court is considering a lawsuit filed in November 2022 by two Albanian environmental organizations, "PPNEA" and "AOS", with the support of the international organization "EuroNatur", which oppose the Vlora airport construction plan. in the Narta Lagoon.
The Administrative Court of First Instance of Tirana had decided in November 2022 not to accept the lawsuit filed by two Albanian environmental organizations, but the Administrative Court of Appeal overturned this decision, giving the environmental organizations the legitimacy to face the government in court regarding the decision-making for the construction of the airport.
The Albanian government, for its part, has stated that the project to build the airport of Vlora does not affect the protected area of Narta, but on the contrary, it gives development to tourism and the whole region.
According to the government authorities, the project basically envisages investment in the area where the old airport used to be, and possibilities have been seen for the project to respect the rules for the environment.
Prime Minister Edi Rama, through a post in the summer of this year on social networks of photos showing the new runway of the newly built airport, stated that work is being done at a high pace with the aim of landing the first plane in the summer of 2025 at Vlora Airport.
The Vjosë-Nartë Protected Landscape is, according to organizations, one of the most important ecological systems in Albania, the second most important wetland in the country, home to important species of flora and fauna and part of several international ecological networks, the migration corridor of Adriatic Sea, with more than 220 species of birds.
The construction of the Vlora airport started in November 2021 by a consortium of companies, where 50% of the shares were owned by "Mabetex" of the entrepreneur Behgjet Pacolli, in partnership with the Turkish company, "Yda Group", which had 48% of the shares, while 2% belong to the company from Kosovo "2A Group Shpk".
In March of this year, the Turkish company withdrew from the consortium and the "Mabco Constructions" Company took possession of 98% of the shares of the Vlora International Airport concession, after buying the shares owned by the Turkish company for 4450 euros.
Vlora Airport covers an area of 297 hectares with an estimated investment value of around 104 million euros./ voa
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