The government has made a decision to support renewable energy, and in particular to stimulate the production of electricity by encouraging the construction of several hundred micro hydropower plants (MHPs) in mountainous regions. The relatively high feed-in tariff (the price of alternative energy per unit guaranteed by the state to the owners of small, mini and micro hydropower plants), compared to the price of the electricity supplied to consumers in Ukraine, is considered to be an effective incentive for businesses. However, the lack of clear environmental criteria for determining the location of MHPs has placed the unique ecosystems of the Ukrainian mountains under threat and prompted a public outcry. Environmentalists and activists have launched a campaign to protect nature in the mountains. The campaign is supported by local residents and representatives of the tourism industry, since the uncontrolled development of MHPs poses a threat to the area’s recreational potential.
Tourists and tourism organisations
Representatives of the tourism industry consider that MHPs in the Ukrainian Carpathians in their current form not only threaten sustainable and active tourism, but can also make some forms of tourism impossible (kayaking, canoeing and rafting).
Developers and investors are lobbying for the construction of MHPs and insisting on their significance and environmental safety. They are trying to reach an agreement with communities and are waging information wars with environmentalists.
Members of the local population do not always have sufficient information and yet attempt to protect community interests. Communities are keen to preserve the natural condition of the rivers as a component of the development of the most promising tourism industry in the region, as well as to preserve traditional management practices.
Environmentalists and public activists insist that MHP projects must be lawful, implemented with the appropriate permits, and preceded by actual, rather than formal, public hearings. Projects must not cause harm to the environment. They demand that the construction of MHPs be prohibited on particularly valuable stretches of a river.