The Emergence of Environmental Concerns and the Judicial System: River-based Hydro Schemes in Turkey

By Nahide Konak.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The policy commitments of the Turkish government to renewable energy have been driven primarily by its recognition of the increasing demand for energy and the necessity of becoming an energy independent country, which, in turn led to an increasing interest in all aspects of renewable energy, especially in hydro energy. The controversy surrounding hydro energy development has shown that renewable energy is not without environmental costs. This paper evaluates how the Rize judicial body plays a role in protecting the local environment with its court order. The verdict of the Rize court regarding the approval of an environmental impact assessment conducted by the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry related to constructing a river-based electric scheme on the Iyidere River in Ikizdere, Rize illustrates the issues involved. This case study demonstrates that the executive regulatory system and decision-making process have not been very successful at balancing the national and global demand for hydro renewable energy against the local impact of hydro development. The Turkish executive body, particularly the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, has favored global and national demand for hydro development over local environmental protection. In contrast, the Rize court weighed the costs and benefits and came down in favor of protecting the local environment. The verdict insists that the national and global drive for hydro renewable energy need must not override the need to protect the local environment from the environmental impact of hydro-electric development. First, the court decision provides an excellent example of the way in which the judicial approach to environmental issues has challenged the executive approach. Second, it provides some insights into how the Rize judicial system seeks to reconcile renewable energy policy and the local environmental impacts of hydro developments. Third, the application of the sustainable development principle is particularly interesting in this context. Fourth, the case illustrates the growing significance of European Community environmental law in the decision-making process.

Keywords: Hydro-Electric Development, Sustainable Development, Environmental Protection, Judicial System, Turkey

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.207-220. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.026MB).

Asst. Prof. Nahide Konak

Assistant Professor, Sosyology Department, Abant İzzet Baysal University, Bolu, Turkey

I obtained my undergraduate degree in sociology from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, my Master’s degree in sociology from Boston University, Boston, USA and my Ph.D. in sociology from Northeastern University, Boston, USA. My research interests are environmental conflicts, environmental movements, environmental justice and sustainability within the context of economic globalization. Recently, I have been working on energy, hydro-power development controversy and sustainable development issues in Turkey. I am teaching courses on research methods, quantitative and qualitative research methods, environment and society, feminist theory and the sociology of gender.


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