The owner of a local tourist restaurant in the outskirts of Banja Luka has started turning a natural island on the river Vrbas into a commercially usable space in April 2016. He plans to build a port and a park in the formerly pristine natural area, densely forested space, rich in fauna.
The rough action towards the island Ada´s ecosystem was not ceased by the authorities, on the contrary, it was granted by the Municipality – RS government by claiming the project a public interest. The preparatory phase of the project was therefore speeded up, despite the season of nesting for the grey heron at the site in big numbers – large number of about 50 nests have been spotted in the monitoring earlier this year (February 2016).
This project of public interest will be a tourist attraction for the few ones going to the restaurant and using the little port that is going to be built, but the natural area that helps in the regulation of the water flow and nesting habitat of the great water birds will be lost.
Center for Environment, through the requests for access to information, collected the consent and water guidelines issued by the Public utility for waters of Republic of Srpska, which clearly states that investor is allowed only to cleanse the island of trash and fallen trees.
Several times we asked to meet with investor and finally after three months we got the meeting with low level officer. The meeting was not productive but it was a great opportunity to get into the island and record changes. We found out many irregularities and one of the most important was construction of the paths where they used a lot of concrete which is strictly forbidden by the “water guidelines”.
“We send the letter of compliment to the water and building inspection and after one month we get the response from building inspector stating that the construction work is suspended because of these irregularities” said Viktor Bjelic from Center for Environment.
However, the relevant authorities started and finalized procedure in a shortened procedure of adopting the zoning plan which excludes public hearing.