Source: eKapija | Monday, 30.05.2011.| 16:14
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Construction of Small Hydroelectric Power Plants and Power Generation in Serbia - Environmental Impact Assessment and Technical Documentation

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The environmental impact assessment is a very important element in the process of construction of a power plant. Within the procedure for obtaining the Energy Permit, it is necessary to make a study of possible impacts on the environment including the proposed
measures for protection of the environment. Should the competent authority find it necessary, the Environmental Impact Assessment Study for a small hydropower plant shall have to be prepared as an element for issuing of the Construction Permit (only for power plants exceeding the capacity of 2 MW). The Decree on the List of Projects for which the Environmental Impact Assessment Study Is Mandatory (List I) and on the List of Projects for which the Environmental Impact Assessment May Be Requested (List II), stipulates that preparation of the Impact Assessment Study for a small hydropower plant exceeding the capacity of 2 MW might be required, as it is included in the List II of this Decree. The Impact Assessment Study is not required for small hydropower plants having a capacity below 2 MW.

The Law on Environmental Impact Assessment stipulates that, for a small hydropower plant exceeding 2 MW, since it belongs to the group of facilities for which the Environmental Impact Assessment Study might be required, the owner of the project for the facility shall submit the Application to the competent authority who shall thereafter decide on the need for impact assessment. Competence of the authority in the procedure of establishing the need for preparation of the Impact Assessment Study is the same as in the case of establishing the competence for issuing the Construction Permit, which means that the relevant authority in this procedure is the competent body of a local self-government unit (*81).

The application for the need to assess the impact shall be submitted in the prescribed form, in compliance with the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment and the Rulebook on Contents of the Application for the Need to Assess the Impact and Contents of the Application for Determining the Scope and Contents of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study. The application for the need to assess the impact shall contain: 1) Data on the project owner; 2) Description of the location; 3) Description of the characteristics of the project; 4) Presentation of the main alternatives that have been analyzed; 5) Description of the environmental factors that may be exposed to the impact; 6) Description of possible major adverse impacts of the project on the environment; 7) Description of the measures envisaged for the purpose of prevention, mitigation, and elimination of major adverse impacts; 8) Other data and information at the request of the
competent authority. The following documentation shall be submitted with the application: 1) The Information on Location or the verified Urban Design (issued within a period of maximum one year); 2) The Conceptual Design or the Preliminary Design, or the excerpt from the Preliminary Design; 3) Graphical presentation of the micro- and macro-location; 4) Requirements and approvals of other competent authorities and organizations (*82) obtained in compliance with a special law; 5) The evidence of payment of the Republic administrative fee; 6) Other evidence as may be requested by the competent authority.

Within 10 days, the competent authority shall notify the interested authorities and the public about the submitted application. Those interested must submit their respective opinion within 10 days, as of the date of receipt of the notification. Thereafter, within the next 10 days, the competent authority shall hand down its decision. If it is decided that that the impact assessment study is required for the considered hydropower plant exceeding 2 MW, the same Decision may also stipulate the scope and contents of the impact assessment study. If it is established that the impact assessment is not required, the competent authority may prescribe the minimum requirements for environmental protection in its Decision. The Decision shall be submitted to the project owner, the relevant stakeholders, and to the interested public within 3 days from the date of its issuance. The project owner and the interested public may lodge an appeal, and the competent second-instance authority shall hand down its decision within 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. If, further to the application related to the impact assessment, the Decision has been obtained in which it was decided that the impact assessment is required and if, in the same Decision, the competent authority has not specified the scope and contents of the impact assessment study, the project owner shall submit the Application for determining the scope and contents of the impact assessment study to the competent authority, in the prescribed form. The specified application shall contain: 1) Data on the project owner, 2) Description of the location, 3) Description of the project, presentation of the main alternatives that have been analyzed, 4) Description of the environmental factors that may be exposed to the impact, 5) Description of possible major adverse environmental impacts, 6) Description of the measures envisaged for the purpose of prevention, mitigation, and elimination of major adverse impacts, 7) Non-technical summary of data from 2) to 6), 8) Data on possible difficulties encountered by the project owner in collecting the data and documentation, 9) Other data and information, upon a request of the competent authority. The following documentation shall be submitted with the specified application: the Information on the Location or a verified Urban Design (issued within a period of maximum one year), the Preliminary Design, or the excerpt from the Preliminary Design, graphical presentation of the macro- and micro-location, requirements and approvals of other competent authorities, evidence of payment of the fee, and other evidence, upon a request of the competent authority. Within 10 days, the competent authority shall notify the interested public about the submitted application. Those interested must submit their respective opinion within 15 days as of the date of receipt of the notification. Within 10 days, the competent authority shall hand down the decision on the scope and contents of the impact assessment study. The decision shall be submitted to the project owner and to the interested public within 3 days.

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The project owner and the interested public may lodge an appeal, and the competent second-instance authority shall hand down the decision within 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. The detailed procedure for elaboration of the Impact Assessment Study for small hydropower plants is regulated by the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment and by the pertaining by-laws (*83). This Law stipulates that the pertaining Environmental Impact Assessment Study for a small hydropower plant is an integral part of the documentation, which is to be submitted with the application for the Construction Permit or with the report on commencement of the project implementation (construction, carrying out of the works, change of technology, change of activity, and other activities). The Impact Assessment Study shall include: the data on the project owner, description of the location, description of the project, presentation of the main alternatives of the project that have been analyzed, presentation of the state of the environment at the micro- and macro-location, description of possible major impacts of the project on the environment, assessment of the impact on the environment in case of an accident, description of the measures envisaged for the purpose of prevention, mitigation, and possible elimination of any major harmful impact on the environment, the program of monitoring of the impact on the environment, non-technical short presentation of the data specified above, data on technical deficiencies or non-existence of adequate expert knowledge and skills or inability to obtain relevant data. The obtained requirements and approvals of the other competent authorities and organizations shall also be submitted with the Study. The Study shall also contain the basic data on the persons, who have participated in making the study, on the person in charge thereof, the date of making the study, signature and seal of the person in charge thereof, as well as the seal of the licensed organization, which has made the study, and which is registered for preparation of this type of documentation in the Business Registers Agency. (*84)

The project owner shall submit the Application for the approval of the impact assessment study no later than within one year from the date of receipt of the final decision on the scope and contents of the impact assessment study. The impact assessment study (3 paper copies and 1 copy in electronic format) and the decision of the competent authority from the previous stage of the procedure shall be submitted with the application. The public authority shall ensure public perusal, presentation of, and a public hearing on the study and it shall notify the interested parties about its time and venue within 7 days. The public hearing may be held within minimum 20 days from the date of the notification. Within 10 days from the date of receipt of the application for the approval, the competent authority shall form the Technical Commission for evaluation of the Impact Assessment Study. Within three days after forming the Technical Commission, the study shall be submitted to the Commission for evaluation. Within three days after completion of public perusal, the competent authority shall submit the Report with the overview of the opinion of the interested parties to the Commission. At the proposal of the Technical Commission, the competent authority may request from the project owner to make amendments and supplements within a certain time period. The Technical Commission shall submit the report with the evaluation of the impact assessment study and a proposed decision to the competent authority within 30 days from the date of receipt of the documentation from the competent authority. Within ten days from the date of receipt of the Report from the Technical Commission, the competent authority shall notify the interested parties about the decision on giving the approval on this study or about the rejection of the application for the approval of the impact assessment study, specifically about: 1) The contents of the decision; 2) The main reasons on which the decision is based; 3) The most important measures, which the project owner shall undertake for the purpose of prevention, mitigation, or elimination of harmful impacts. The (discontented) project owner and the interested public may institute an administrative suit against the specified decision.

The Law on Environmental Impact Assessment also regulates the procedure of updating the Environmental Impact Assessment Study due to the lapse of time. It is necessary to point to the fact that the validity of the Decision on Approval of the Impact Assessment Study is two years, within which time period the project owner is obliged to commence the construction of a small hydropower plant exceeding 2 MW. Upon expiry of this deadline, the competent authority may hand down the decision on the making of a new Impact Assessment Study or on updating the existing one. This decision shall be handed down based on the application of the project owner. The same decision shall also be handed down in case the project owner must deviate from the documentation based on which the impact assessment study of a small hydropower plant exceeding 2 MW has been made. In the latter case, the application for the approval of the updated Impact Assessment Study shall be submitted prior to the submitting of the application for the Construction Permit. The Law on Environmental Protection stipulates that the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning shall issue the preliminary consent on the approval for the use of natural resources or assets. This consent verifies fulfillment of the requirements and measures of sustainable use of natural resources, or assets (air, water, land, forests, geological resources, plant and animal life) and environmental protection in the course of and after termination of engaging in the activity. (*85)

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Technical Documentation

Construction of structures is carried out on the basis of the Construction Permit, according to the technical documentation for construction of a structure. Technical documentation is a set of designs that are prepared for the purpose of: establishing the concept of the structure, elaboration of requirements, the method of construction of the structure, and for the requirements of maintenance of the structure. Technical documentation is prepared on the basis of the Location Permit, which contains all the requirements and data required for preparation of the technical documentation. The Energy Permit is not submitted with the application for the Construction Permit for construction of a small hydropower plant of up to 1 MW, because the Energy Permit is not issued for such plants. (*86)

According to the Law on Planning and Construction, the technical documentation for construction of structures shall consist of: 1) The General Design; 2) The Preliminary Design; 3) The Main Design, and 4) The Detailed Design. The As-built Design of a structure pertains to the technical documentation, which is prepared after the construction of a small hydropower plant, prior to obtaining the Operating Permit. Prior to the commencement of preparation of the technical documentation for construction of the structure referred to in Article 133, paragraph 2, of the Law on Planning and Construction, for which the Construction Permit is issued by the competent ministry, or by the Autonomous Province, the preliminary work shall be carried out, based on the results of which the preliminary feasibility study and the feasibility study shall be made. A general design contains the data on: 1) The macro-location of the structure; 2) General layout of the structure; 3) The technical and technological concept of the structure; 4) The method of providing the infrastructure; 5) Possible variants of spatial and technical solutions from the aspect of fitting in the space; 6) Natural conditions; 7) Assessment of the impact on the environment; 8) Engineering, geological, and geotechnical characteristics of the terrain from the aspect of establishing the general concept and justifiability of construction of the structure; 9) Exploratory works for preparation of the preliminary design; 10) Protection of natural and immovable cultural assets; 11) Functionality and rationality of the design. The preliminary design specifies: the use, position, form, capacity, technical, technological, and functional characteristics of the structure, organizational elements of the structure, and views of the structure. (*87)

The layout plan, which is the necessary element of the Preliminary Design, depending on the type of structure, shall contain: 1) Lengths of each side of the building plot; 2) Height levels of the existing land and leveling; 3) Regulation and building lines, including presentation of the existing and planned structures with outer dimensions, the number of floors of the planned structure including the presentation of the final story or roof structure with plane slopes; 4) The position and numbers of adjacent cadastral lots and buildings, as well as the name of the street. The general design and the preliminary design, the preliminary feasibility study, and the feasibility study for the structures referred to in Article 133, paragraphs 9), and 20), of the Law on Planning and Construction, when a power plant structure is located in protected environs of an outstanding immovable cultural asset and of cultural assets registered in the Lists of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and of structures in protected areas in compliance with the decision on protection of cultural assets (except for conversion of shared premises into an apartment and/or business premises in protected environs of cultural assets of outstanding significance and of cultural assets registered in the Lists of the World Cultural Heritage), as well as of structures within the boundaries of a national park and structures within the boundaries of protection of a protected outstanding natural asset (except for family houses, agricultural facilities, and industrial facilities and the appurtenant infrastructure facilities constructed in villages), in compliance with the law, and of facilities for electricity generation from renewable sources of energy up to or in excess of 10 MW capacity, as well as for co-generation power plants), shall be subject to review (expert supervision) by the committee, which shall be formed by the minister in charge of civil engineering affairs (hereinafter referred to as: the Review Committee).

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The Review Committee shall submit to the investor the report with the measures, which must be applied when preparing the Main Design. The deadline for submitting the report may not exceed 60 days as of the date of a duly submitted application. The costs of design review shall be borne by the investor. The Main Design specifies the civil engineering, technical, technological, and exploitation characteristics of a structure including the equipment and installations, technical, technological, and organizational solutions for construction of the structure, the value of the investment in the structure, and the requirements for maintenance of the structure. In addition to the elements of the Main Design (*88), strictly prescribed in the Law on Planning and Construction, this design shall also contain the statement of the designer-in-charge and the party that has exercised the review, confirming that the main design has been prepared in compliance with the location permit and rules of the profession. The investor shall obtain the approval of the Main Design from the authorities or organizations as specified in the requirements contained in the location permit. The Detailed Design contains elaboration of all the necessary details for construction of a structure according to the Main Design. This Design is prepared for the requirements of carrying out of the work on construction if the Main Design does not contain elaboration of details needed to execute the works. The As-built Design presents the as-built state of a structure and it is prepared for the requirements of obtaining the Operating Permit, exploitation, and maintenance of the structure. This design is the Main Design including the modifications made in the course of construction of the structure. In case there have been no deviations from the Main Design in the course of construction of the structure, the investor, the person who has exercised the supervision, and the contractor shall corroborate and certify, on the main design, that the as-built state is identical to the designed state. In addition to the above specified, the preliminary feasibility study (*89) and the feasibility study (*90) may be made. The preliminary feasibility study contains the General Design. The feasibility study contains the Preliminary Design. The technical documentation for construction of structures may be prepared by a company or by another legal entity or by an entrepreneur, which are registered in the relevant registry for preparation of technical documentation. Technical documentation for construction of structures for which the Construction Permit is issued by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, or by the relevant authority of the Autonomous Province, may be prepared by a company or by another legal entity, which is registered in the relevant registry for preparation of technical documentation for that type of structures and which has employed persons with the licenses for the designers-in-charge, who have adequate professional results in preparation of technical documentation for that type and use of structures, or who possess the licenses for preparation of technical documentation for construction of structures for which the construction approval is issued by the ministry, or by the Autonomous Province.

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In case of construction of small hydropower plants, based on the obtained Information on the Location and collected requirements, the design documentation is usually prepared at the level of a study of the systems, in case of more complex systems of structures within small hydropower plants, or at the level of a General/Conceptual Design for a less complex system of structures (which is currently the most common case in practice (*91)). The mandatory studies accompanying the General Design shall include the studies on hydrology and energy. The General Design (*92) shall be prepared when there is no detailed regulating plan and, when the plan exists, the Feasibility Study and Preliminary Design shall then be prepared, specifically for the structures referred to in Article 133, paragraph 2 of the Law on Planning and Construction. The Law on Planning and Construction stipulates that one may prepare the Main Design after obtaining the Location Permit. The Main Design represents a detailed elaboration of the technical solution, which has been obtained in the previous design stage (the General/Preliminary Design (*94)), based on detailed exploratory works and requirements defined in the Location Permit. The Main Design represents a detailed design elaboration of a layout-wise fully defined facility and its ancillary facilities. The computations within the Main Design shall be on the highest level of detail, including full verification of all the components of stability of the structures: hydraulic, structural - static and dynamic ones, geotechnical and others, all the phenomena that affect the functioning of the systems shall be scrutinized, with particular emphasis on transitional regimes in operation of the hydropower plant, including all delicate phenomena that accompany such processes (the issues related to water hammer, non-stationary phenomena in intake and discharge derivation and methods of their neutralization, the issues of vibrations, pressure pulsation, issues related to the stability of individual hydraulic regimes during exploitation of the structure and within hydrologically and hydraulically critical periods). Once the structural design has been fully completed, an accurate Bill of Quantities and Priced Bill of Quantities, in accordance with the agreed unit prices shall have to be prepared. Prior to elaboration of the Main Design, specific equipment and specific suppliers’ quotations will have to be selected. This is a very important intermediate stage, since only based on the selected equipment of specific suppliers (turbines, generating sets, and all the pertaining ancillary equipment) it will be possible to operate, within the Main Design, with accurate dimensions and weights of the equipment, as received from the manufacturers who will eventually deliver the equipment. The layouts in the Main Design are prepared generally in the scales varying between 1:500 and 1:1000, while various project elements are prepared in the scales varying between 1:200 and 1:500. Drawings of the structures are generally made in the scales varying between 1:100 and 1:200, and details even in the scale 1:50.

The investor shall obtain the approval of the Main Design from the authorities or organizations, when it is specified by the requirements contained in the Location Permit (*94). The Main Design shall be subject to a technical review. The technical review of the Main Design may be exercised by a company or another legal entity and by an entrepreneur, who fulfill the requirements for preparation of the technical documentation prescribed by the law and who are designated and financed by the investor.

The technical review of the Main Design for construction of structures for which the Construction Permit is issued by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, or by the competent authority of the Autonomous Province, may be prepared by a company or by another legal entity, which is registered in the relevant registry for preparation of technical documentation for that type of structures and which has employed persons with licenses for designers-in-charge, who have adequate professional results in the preparation of technical documentation for that type and use of structures, or who possess the license for preparation of technical documentation for construction of structures for which the construction approval is issued by the ministry, or by the Autonomous Province. A report shall be made on the completed technical review, which shall be signed by the designer-in-charge employed with the entity that has exercised the review, while the accuracy of the Main Design shall be certified on the actual design. The review of the Main Design for construction of structures, for which the Construction Permit is issued by the competent ministry, or by the Autonomous Province, shall also include verification of the harmonization with the measures contained in the report of the Review Committee. (*95)

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Details of Relevant Legislation

(*81) The competent authority of the local self-government unit in charge of environmental protection. In case a ministry is in charge of issuing the Construction Permit, then the same ministry shall be in charge of the procedure of assessing the need for making the Impact Assessment Study.

(*82) If the subject project is to be implemented in a protected natural area, then it shall first be necessary to obtain the relevant Requirements of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia and to submit them together with the application.

(*83) The by-laws pertaining to the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment that are applicable to this issue include the Rulebook on the Contents of the Application for Assessing the Need for Impact Assessment and the contents of the application for determination of the scope and contents of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study and the Rulebook on Contents of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study.

(*84) A more detailed prescribed content of the study is contained in the Rulebook on Contents of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study.

(*85) Article 15 of the Law on Environmental Protection. This Article is further elaborated in the Law on Protection of Nature, Chapter II: Protection of Nature, sub-chapter: Planning, Development and Use of the Space, Natural Resources and Protected Areas, specifically from Article 8 to Article 14, and it applies to small hydropower plants, too.

(*86) The regulations are not clear on issuing the Construction Permit for small hydropower plants less than 1 MW, since the Law on Planning and Construction stipulates that this decision for energy facilities shall be issued in compliance with the Energy Permit and other prescribed documentation and, according to the Energy Law, the Energy Permit is not issued for such facilities. This means that the Construction Permit for small hydropower plants of up to 1 MW shall be issued in accordance with all the decisions specified in the Law on Planning and Construction, except for the Energy Permit.

(*87) The preliminary design shall contain the layout plan and the data on: 1) The micro-location of the structure; 2) Functional, structural, and form-relevant characteristics of the structure; 3) Technical, technological, and exploitation characteristics of the structure; 4) Engineering, geological, and geotechnical characteristics of the terrain and soil including the preliminary analysis of stability and safety of the structure; 5) The design of the foundation of the structure; 6) Technical, technological, and organizational elements of construction of the structure; 7) Measures for prevention or mitigation of negative impact on the environment; 8) The conceptual design of the infrastructure; 9) The comparative analysis of the variant technical solutions from the aspect of properties of the soil, functionality, stability, assessment of the impact on the environment, natural and immovable cultural assets, rationality of construction and exploitation, the amount of the costs of construction, transportation, maintenance, provisions for energy, and other costs.

(*88) The Main Design shall contain, in particular: 1) The layout plan; 2) Detailed engineering, geological, and geotechnical requirements for construction of the structure; 3) Topographical surveying documents; 4) Data on the functional, structural, and form-relevant characteristics of the structure; 5) Elaboration of technical and technological characteristics of the structure including the equipment and installations; 6) Computation of engineering structures, stability, and safety of the structure; 7) The design of the foundation of the structure; 8) Data on the required surveying in the course of construction; 9) Technical solution of the infrastructure including the method of service connections and landscaping of free areas; 10) Requirements for protection of the structure and adjacent structures; 11) Technical, technological, and organizational solutions for construction of the structure; 12) Elaboration of the measures for prevention or mitigation of negative impacts on the environment through the adequate technological process; 13) Costs of construction and maintenance of the structure; 14) Other designs, studies, and data depending on the use of the structure.

(*89) The Preliminary Feasibility Study shall specify the spatial, environmental, social, financial, market, and economic justifiability of the investment for the optional solutions defined in the general design, based on which the planning document shall be adopted, as well as the decision on justifiability of the investment in preliminary work for the Preliminary Design and for making the Feasibility Study. It is mandatory for the structures referred to in Article 133 of the Law on Planning and Construction.

(*90) The Feasibility Study shall determine the spatial, environmental, social, financial, market, and economic justifiability of the investment for the selected solution, elaborated in the preliminary design, based on which the decision on justifiability of the investment shall be handed down. It is mandatory for the structures referred to in Article 133 of the Law on Planning and Construction.

(*91) Current practice points to standard layouts of small hydropower plants.

(*92) The aim of preparation of the General Design of a hydropower plant is to obtain the technical and economic parameters for such facilities, based on which it will be possible to make the Preliminary Feasibility Study so that Investor can decide on his/her further activities on the project for realization of the particular facility: applying for the location permit for that particular location or looking for a new location, as well as in order to direct the required exploratory and study works (geodetic, geological, soil mechanics, hydrological, etc.) in the most rational direction.

(*93) The General and the Preliminary Design shall be prepared for the structures referred to in Article 133, paragraph 2 of the Law on Planning and Construction.

(*94) Article 119, paragraph 4, of the Law on Planning and Construction. One should particularly take into account that Article 10, paragraphs 3 and 4, of the Law on Nature Protection, shall be applied to the projects that may have impact on the integrity of an ecologically important area from the aspect of the objectives of its preservation, where it is stipulated that the same structures shall be subject to the approval by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, including the mandatory opinion of the Institute for Nature Conservation.

(*95) If the Report on the completed review of the Main Design is positive, i.e. there are no remarks that would give rise to the amendment of the design documentation; the specified entity shall affix its seal evidencing the completed review, which shall be signed by the designer-in-charge of the review on the actual design - on the first page thereof.

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Note: This text is taken from the document-guide for investors "Construction of Small Hydropower Plants and Power Generation in the Republic of Serbia", of which authors are Dr. Branislava Lepotic Kovacevic, PhD Law, Biljana Trajkovic, MSc C. Eng, and Bojan Lazarevic, BSc El. Eng.

The project was implemented under the patronage of USAID, GTZ / GIZ Serbia and the Ministry of Energy in 2010.

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