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Rule of Law in Slovenia: Mayor Janković Expropriated Them Without Notice In The C0 Canal Area, Where They Were Farming

“Yes, I have been expropriated. My cousin e-mailed me an extract from the land registry, which says that I am temporarily expropriated for six plots in the area. I was not informed of this at all,” said one of the owners of the land where Ljubljana Mayor Janković is arbitrarily building the C0 sewer canal.

In last week’s episode of the show “Tema dneva” (Topic of the Day), the host of the show, Aleksandra Jug, said, “After the letter from the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy made it clear that Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković does not have the consent to build the C0 canal, and that without environmental consent the works cannot go ahead, one would have expected Janković to immediately stop construction and the inspectorate to close down the construction site. However, this does not seem to be the case yet, as building inspector Goran Golubič explains that no one has the power to order him to take any action in the event of illegal construction of the sewer.” She also drew attention to Article 63 of the Environmental Protection Act, which stipulates that the developer may only carry out an intervention on the basis of a final environmental permit, which has not yet been issued in this case.

This was recently pointed out by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy, which referred the letter to the Environment and Energy Inspectorate and the Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Inspectorate. Jug also highlighted the recent protest in front of the Ljubljana City Hall, led by Aleš Primc. The event was organised by part of the opposition in the Ljubljana City Council. Primc reminded the audience that the Mayor does not have a building permit for the C0 canal and that he also does not have the necessary environmental permits. He also recalled the negative opinion of the National Institute of Public Health on the canal, which would pose a permanent threat to the health of the citizens of Ljubljana. Primc has repeatedly warned that the Mayor intends to destroy Ljubljana’s drinking water. A few days ago, the owners of the land over which the canal is being built wanted to tear down the fence surrounding the digging site with tractors. This is because it has been set up on their plots.

This time, instead of being filmed in the studio, the show was filmed on location. Landowner Anton Grad said: “We found out that they have a route that is 250-300 metres off, which is a whole building plot, so they are building on a plot where they don’t even have a building permit.” As he further explained, the matter was not in the municipal spatial plan. Geodetically, the matter is unregulated. He recalled that the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy had ordered two inspectorates to inspect the illegal construction in question. On the 28th of September 2020, the Ministry issued a decision stating that the proposed development was subject to an environmental impact assessment and that environmental consent needed to be obtained for it.

There has been no inspection control, the illegal construction is continuing on the wrong plot!

Article 63 of the Environmental Protection Act stipulates that the developer may only carry out the development on the basis of a final environmental permit, which has not yet been issued. One of the journalists present (journalists from other media outlets were also present) asked the landowners how many tractors were present on the site and what they planned to do with them. The owner replied that they had asked the workers and security guards to move the fence back a little so that the farmers could get to their land. At the same time, they informed the supervisor, Luka Brenko, from the DRI Investment Management, Company for Development of Infrastructure Ltd., of their intentions. As Grad further pointed out, there has been no inspection control, otherwise, the illegal construction would not have been continued on the wrong plot. A request for withdrawal was also made to the police, who replied that they had no jurisdiction there. The owners, therefore, asked the workers themselves to remove the fence so that they could access the fields.

Otherwise, the farmers would have to pull the fence down themselves. He added that the “inspections and the rule of law” no longer seem to apply and that someone had to step in and put things right. It is also not true that the farmers moved the stakes themselves, and the builders consequently missed the construction route. The landowners’ lawyer has contacted the head of the police in Bežigrad. According to the landowner, the new police commander is doing his best to prevent further incidents from occurring and is being kept informed of their intentions. Among other things, the owners have asked him for police support as illegal construction operations are involved. Grad also pointed out that the Municipality had taken the liberty of digging up the so-called dry meadow, where not only the construction route does not take place, but it is under the auspices of the Biotechnical Faculty.

“My cousin sent me an extract from the land registry showing that I have been temporarily expropriated for six plots in the area!”

The owner won the lawsuit after three years, and the judge clearly stated that the Municipality of Ljubljana is not allowed to use the land, to dig it up or to drive over it, however; the Municipality is acting as if the court decision does not even exist. Another owner, Filip Čemažar, pointed out that he had been expropriated: “Yes, I have been expropriated. My cousin e-mailed me an extract from the land registry, which says that I am temporarily expropriated for six plots in the area. I was not informed of this at all. I came here today with my tractor because I am opposed to the Municipality simply taking our land, where we farm and do our honest work. And when it comes to the C0 canal itself, which is located in a water protection area, enough has already been said and written about it.”

Another landowner, Blaž Škerl, said the following: “Nobody has called us to show us where the borders are on which they can put these fences that have already been set up. They are much wider than they should be. We will show that they are on private land, and we will move these fences a little bit.” He added that they are sad and disappointed with the state, the Municipality, and the judiciary because things are so slow to change. The dispute has not moved in any direction for four years now. He is angry that they have to show what they are fighting for in this way – not only for land, but also for drinking water.

For Minister Brežan, this is a third-class issue

The citizens of Ljubljana may only sober up when their water is already polluted. Škerl also recalled that they had recently been attacked by security forces in civilian clothes – and on private land. Grad added that he and Minister Uroš Brežan had an appointment, but the latter cancelled it one day before the meeting. This is a man who has no interest in the matter. Finally, after appeals, they met with Marko Maver, a member of an NGO (who is not even the secretary at the Ministry). “The Minister has thus shown that the matter can simply continue!” A police officer, however, merely threatened the farmers with consequences if they dared to do anything on their own.

Domen Mezeg

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