(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Although the majority people who voted in an advisory referendum in the Labin region of Istria opposed plans for a new coal-fired thermal power plant, the project is to go ahead.
A total of 94.5 per cent of people who turned out to cast ballots in the referendum on Sunday expressed disapproval about the building of the power Plomin C plant near the town of Labin.
But the turnout at 36 per cent was not high enough to make the vote binding because it did not pass the 50 per cent legal threshold.
The Croatian state electricity provider, HEP, has insisted that the project will go ahead regardless of the referendum.
But campaign groups Croatian Greenpeace, Green Action and Green Istria said the vote had however sent out a strong message that people in the region were opposed to the new plant because of ecological and health fears.
"[The referendum] didn't fail; since it is advisory, it makes no difference if the turnout was 50 per cent. Citizens have clearly shown their opinion. The government must not ignore it," Marko Gregovic from Greenpeace told BIRN.
Gregovic said the campaign groups would not strive to ensure that the process of building the plant was transparent.
"We demand that everything is transparent and that the public is presented all contracts and conditions, especially when it comes to Marubeni," he said.
Japanese company Marubeni has already signed an agreement with HEP to become a potential partner in constructing the power plant.
The NGOs however said that Marubeni was an unsuitable partner because it pleaded guilty last year to involvement in a corruption scandal over the building of a power plant in Indonesia.
Istria county prefect Valter Flego meanwhile said that the decision whether to use coal at the new power plant should not be taken lightly.
"The decision about what will be the energy used at Plomin C is an extremely serious decision... Unfortunately, the turnout [in the referendum] was not large, but those who did vote made it clear that they are against coal," Flego said, adding that local politicians were advocating gas as an energy source.
The mayor of Labin, Tulio Demetlika, said that the referendum result was "a clear message to all".
"Unfortunately, all those who did not vote in the poll probably think that this is a done deal, given the recent comments coming from HEP, which announced that regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the project will go on," Demetilika said.
The construction of Plomin C is one of the most important strategic infrastructural projects launched by the Croatian government in recent years.
The other projects were a thermal power plant near the town of Ploce on the southern Adriatic coast, a hydropower plant near Dubrovnik and a liquid natural gas terminal on the island of Krk.
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