Detailed Spatial Plan for the Overhead Power Line and Submarine Transmission Cable, Montenegro

To illustrate how public participation can improve environmental decision making, the CO-SEED team gathered case studies from around the world. The case study below is part of our on-going series sharing these examples:

Effective public participation leads to a proposal with more balanced solutions that have the best potential for sustainable performance

The Detailed Spatial Plan (DSP) was to define an infrastructural corridor for an overhead power line stretching across the entire country, as well as to determine possible entry points and directions for laying down a submarine transmission cable for an interconnection with Italy.

The width of the proposed corridor was 1 kilometer. Due to prevailing natural and cultural conditions, it was practically unavoidable that its route would cut across or pass in the vicinity of several protected areas. For these reasons an SEA was required.

Access to information was ensured by the government and the developers of the DSP. This included public discussions about detailed presentations of the issues and alternatives. Meetings were held in the municipalities affected by the DSP, and at the Montenegrin Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, a special meeting on the impacts of alternative routes on national parks was held. This meeting included biodiversity experts and national park management authorities as the key stakeholders. An additional study on biodiversity was commissioned for the DSP and SEA preparation to address identified information gaps after the lack of biodiversity data was particularly emphasised during public meetings.

Public discussions contributed to: the identification of all valuable natural and cultural assets that could be affected by the corridor (and subsequently by transmission lines); consideration of alternatives (and final adoption of routing and locations that were the least environmentally damaging); and determination of mitigation measures. For example, one of the considered alternatives for the entry point of the submarine cable was disregarded due to the fact that it was identified as a potential marine protected area. Also one of the alternatives for the northern section of the overhead line (over Lever Tara) was ruled out because of the ‘Declaration on Protection of Tara River.’