Due to the negative impact of climate change, it is necessary to shift to renewable energy. But a major drawback of adopting these measures on a large scale is that it requires large surfaces that jeopardize the agricultural land and associated ecosystem. In North Macedonia, the government has allowed power plants on fertile land which is being vigorously opposed by Eko-svest. They have expressed concerns that the amendments would permit the permanent conversion of fertile agricultural land into construction sites for renewable energy projects. The environmental group supports sustainable practices and has asked authorities to promote agroecological measures to protect ecosystems.
Eko-svest opposes the proposed changes to the Law on Agricultural Land in North Macedonia. They warn that the changes would allow renewable energy plants to permanently convert agricultural land into construction land. Instead, the organization suggests using degraded surfaces for such projects.
Recently, North Macedonia issued a law stating power plants can be constructed on fertile land. Already climate change has affected food production on a large scale which is why Skopje-based Eko-svest, the Environmental Research and Information Center, is strongly opposing the changes to this law.
The organization explicitly stated that the draft includes provisions allowing for the permanent conversion of land into construction sites specifically designated for the installation of renewable energy facilities.
The statement released by the organization states, â€œWe are worried that the proposed possibility to permanently repurpose most fertile agricultural land for hydroelectric stations, thermal power plants, nuclear power plants, wind power plants, concentrated solar power plants, biofuel-fired power plants and ground-mounted solar and photovoltaic plants would limit the use of fertile land in the country for the production of food for the population. Agricultural land shouldn’t at all be converted to construction land for energy or industrial facilities.â€
Eko-svest emphasized this point that the bill contradicts the government’s current policies on agriculture, rural development, and climate. They also stated that the bill could lead to an increase in imports of fruits and vegetables with unknown origins, as well as higher food costs.
Alternative Sites for Renewable Energy Projects
They believe that there are more suitable locations for certain projects than agricultural and precious natural areas. Using former mines, landfills, or abandoned industrial facilities for these projects does not harm the local population.
Eko-svest and the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU) collaborated on a study and method for choosing mine sites and other brownfield areas to build wind farms and solar parks in North Macedonia. They also found five degraded land sites.
Eko-svest and MANU have collaborated to develop a map showcasing sustainable areas that are perfect for implementing renewable energy projects. They also discovered that investing in half of these areas would generate almost eight times more electricity than all the current power plants in the country.
Eko-svest opposes the law that allows power plants on fertile land and the group passionately advocates for the preservation of land, safeguarding it against degradation, erosion, and pollution. They are appealing to the authorities to diligently support funding and investments in agroecological measures, such as the conservation of indigenous animal breeds and plant species, which are vital for the sustainability of our ecosystems.