The Slovenia Times

Environmental issues aplenty in first year of Šarec government


Piles of waste causing problems

The Environment Ministry has had the toughest time with packaging waste piling up at waste management companies, addressing it with an emergency bill under which the costs of the disposal is temporarily covered by the state.

The act has alleviated the situation somewhat, but the underlying problems remain to be resolved and the issue is expected to only be comprehensively tackled once a brand new environmental protection law is adopted.

The government is also facing problems with regard to hazardous waste, as Kemis, a major waste processing company, has recently stopped accepting hazardous waste after the facilities that had been renovated after a 2017 fire were ordered to be shut down by the inspectors after being found to be built illegally.

Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning Simon Zajc is now in talks with other companies which could potentially take over a majority of shipments of hazardous waste from the Vrhnika-based company.

The government has made good on the promise to reduce the use of free lightweight plastic bags, and is also working on limiting the use of other disposable plastic products. Also in the works is a climate change bill under which measures aiming at carbon neutrality by 2050 are expected to be defined.

Still no energy concept

Following protests to protect the Mura, the coalition formally aborted plans to build hydro power stations on the north-eastern river by halting the drafting of the zoning plan for the Hrastje-Mota power station upon the Environment Ministry's proposal.

It has not been successful in increasing the utilisation of the energy potential of the river Sava, as the planned concession deal with the national power utility HSE for power stations on the central Sava, where three new facilities would be built, has not been signed yet.

While the coalition has also committed to adopting a new energy concept as soon as possible, its passage is being delayed, with Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek sending it into a renewed public consultation period and announcing extensive changes to the last draft.

Things seem to be moving with regard to the long planned expansion of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK), with Prime Minister Marjan Šarec recently speaking in favour of a new reactor to replace the current one beyond 2043. This caused an upset in Austria, indicating the neighbouring country will strongly oppose the project.

Management of large carnivores raises dust

Also making headlines recently have been protests by farmers demanding an effective implementation of an emergency law to reduce the population of brown bear and wolf, with the latter increasingly attacking livestock.

Under the emergency law, passed in June, hunters can kill eleven wolves and 175 bears, with the respective populations estimated at below 1,000 and at nearly 90.

Farmers have been protesting the ineffective implementation of the law, with the official statistics showing that the number of attacks on farm animals by the end of July doubled compared to the same period last year, though they are still below record levels.

After a recent meeting with the prime minister, the Trade Union of Farmers suspended their protests and additional emergency measures are already in the pipeline. A meeting will be held in September to discuss the necessary changes in the system.

More than 13,000 people have meanwhile signed a petition against the planned culling, initiated by a animal rights group. It proposed that a moratorium on the emergency law is issued and long-term measures introduced to preserve wildlife and protect farm animals.


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