Golf lawsuit threatens to ruin Friends of the Earth Croatia

21. 2. 2018 - DUBROVNIK
From the Srđ Hill the view over Dubrovnik is marvelous
Photo: S. J. Pinkney (Wikimedia Commons)

Opposing a controversial golf resort above Dubrovnik might be an environmental initiative. The company 'Razvoj golf' is owned by a Dutch financial holding, Elitech, and demands around €30,000 in damages. Environmentalists allegedly harmed the company's reputation, as well as public interest by pointing out several legal breaches and discrepancies in the permit providing process. Those allegations, however, have been confirmed by Croatian courts.

 

 

A golf resort 20 times larger than the city itself will cause several problems and health risks to the citizens of Dubrovnik, the environmentalists say.

The argument goes for more than decade now. The hugely unpopular and currently illegal golf resort planned close by Srđ Hill was an issue of local referendum in 2013 with 84% disapproval of the project. Due to the court decisions in the following years, it had lost its permits by 2017.

The very same year in September, the investor filed a €500 million claim against the Republic of Croatia at the arbitration tribunal because of the "state taken by their development licenses.However, the licenses were not taken in fact, as they were annulled in a judicial procedure, in which the company took part.

Effort on bankruptcy?

The activists are also about to face trial. The investor has filed two complaints against Zelena akcija/Friends of Croatia seeking 200,000 HRK (around €30,000).

The plaintiff is also looking for ways to prevent activists from speaking publicly about the project.

Despite the verdict

They obtained a new state permit and new location permit, just six weeks after the arbitration claim. Therefore, the state ignored the roulette of its own court.

First, in 2014, the verdict came through for triple the size of the project-- from 100 to 310 hectares. However, the decision was taken by the official responsible, the Dubrovnik-Neretva county chief.

Later, in September 2016, the environmental permit granted to the project in 2013 was overturned. This was followed by the annulment of a location permit in February 2017.

In a nutshell, the latest state-of-the-art decision was based on the same document as the first new environmental permit, and was simply a copy of the original one that was overturned by the court.

In People's Infavor

The enormous golf resort has raised serious concerns from the very beginning. In 2006, the local activist has launched an initiative called “Srđ je naše” (Srđ is ours); in 2010, it was backed by Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia and Right to the City.

The original plan was for the golf resort to be secured through the construction of a hydropower plant on the river Ombla, the source of drinking water for the whole Dubrovnik area, an idea eventually abandoned after strong pressure from Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia. Other local initiatives from Dubrovnik led to European banks withdrawing finance.

However, the resort would still require huge amounts of water to maintain, and dramatically increase pesticide use.

In a 2013 referendum organized by Srđ is ours, 84% of the residents who voted out against it. While the tour was lower than it was needed for the referendum to be binding, it was a clear demonstration of public discontent.

In the past, the "Srđ is ours" initiative has been supported by UNESCO. This is because the city of Dubrovnik was on the list of World Heritage Sites already in 1979.


Further reading:
Golf lawsuit threatens to shut down Friends of the Earth Croatia (Bilaterals.org)
Golf lawsuit threatens to shut down Friends of the Earth Croatia (Foeeurope.org)
The company "and developing golf" gets a permit for condo-isation, Green Action gets a lawsuit! (Zelena-akcija.hr)
and developing Golf and Elite Initiate Arbitration Against State over Golf in Dubrovnik (Total-croatia-news.com)
Community resists landgrab in Dubrovnik (Natures-keepers.org)