Bulgarian Eco-Activists: EU Functionaries Collude with Infringers

Environment | April 5, 2011, Tuesday // 17:19|  views

Photo of what environmentalists claim to be the illegal lift from Panichishte above Sapareva Banya to the Seven Rila Lakes. Photo by For the Nature

The EC delegation sent to review suspected breaches of environmental legislation in Bulgaria took a ride on an "illegal" lift instead of inspecting irregularities around it, stated angered local environmentalists Tuesday.

A delegation from DG Environment was sent to Bulgaria to review complaints by eco-organizations on development of skiways in the Rila and Pirin mountains - both National Parks included in the Natura 2000 network - that the organizations claim are illegal.

Tuesday it was revealed that the delegation found nothing irregular in the lift leading from the town of Sapareva Banya to the Seven Rila Lakes - a facility environmentalists have been long claiming is in total breach of the law.

What especially infuriated activists, united in For the Nature network, was the fact that apparently the EC delegation took a ride on that specific lift in the company of the manager of the Rila Sport firm, which owns the lift.

"The Eurocrats got on the illegal lift and took a ride to the Seven Lakes; upon returning they stated that they could see no breaches of European legislation and that they are considering withdrawing the infringement procedure against Bulgaria," stated representatives of the Citizens for Rila organization.

Eco-activists claim not only that the lift has been build without an adequate environmental impact assesment and permit to cut down the forest, but that also there is a long clearing of the forest running parallel to the lift track and curiously coinciding with one of the planned ski tracks of the Panichishte ski resort they are opposing.

The EC delegation was headed by Jean-Fran?ois Brakeland, director for Compliance Promotion, Governance and Legal Issues at DG Environment.

Environmentalists are calling a protest at 10.00 am Wednesday morning in front of the EC mission in downtown Sofia, under the motto "Eurocrats Snub EU Legislation in Rila and Ride on a Lift of the Mob."

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Tags: NATURA 2000, For the Nature, Sapareva Banya, Seven Rila Lakes, Rila Sport, infringement procedure, Pirin, Rila, EU, EC


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