Belarus building N-plant without public consent, parties to Aarhus convention admit
Parties to the UN Aarhus Convention acknowledged during their meeting in Montenegro on Thursday that in building the Astravyets nuclear power plant, Belarus had violated the right of the public, granted by the convention, to receive information and participate in environmental decision-making, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
This marks the third time that it has been acknowledged that Belarus fails to comply with its international obligations under the Aarhus Convention, it said.
"Neither the public in Belarus, nor in Lithuania were allowed to play a role in decision-making processes with regard to the nuclear power plant in Belarus. Thus, this project is being developed without public consent. Obviously, the Belarusian government has not received the public mandate for the construction of the Astravyets NPP," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said in a press release.
According to the ministry, the parties to the convention stated that in the absence of a mechanism for public participation in decision-making processes, the general public in Belarus had not been able to effectively participate in decision-making on the nuclear power plant.
The parties also acknowledged that Belarus had harassed, persecuted and punished environmentalists protesting against the Astravyets facility. Belarus' law enforcement bodies in 2012 arrested four activists campaigning against the project.
Concerned over a lack of information about the project, Lithuania in March 2015 turned to the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, which concluded in June of that year that Belarus had breached the provisions of the convention.