Bulgarians Oppose Construction of New Hotels, Ski Tracks in Rila, Pirin

Environment | June 16, 2011, Thursday // 18:28|  views

Environmental activists protest against the over-construction of Bulgarian mountains. Photo by BGNES

Air and water pollution and forest destruction are among the most serious problems for Bulgarian nature, according to a survey.

As much as 80% of Bulgarians oppose the construction of new hotels, ski tracks and sports facilities in the protected areas in high mountains- Rila, Pirin, Stara Planina, Vitosha and the Rhodope Mountains, according to a poll conducted by Alpha Research in end-May at the request of leading environmental organization WWF.

Over 50% of the respondents cite the poor quality of air and water as a primary environmental concern for the country.

According to the polling agency, the systemic pollution of Gabrovo, Stara Zagora and Kardzhali and the poor quality of air in big cities have made the people highlight the importance of this issue.

Over half of Bulgaria's population breathes in fine dust particles in concentrations exceeding European norms, according to a report of the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The environmental survey is carried out for the third time in Bulgaria.

According to data from 2006, Bulgarians see forest felling as a key problem.

In 2008, three out of four respondents singled out this issue as the most pressing, with more than 50% of the respondents voicing fears over the illegal construction activities and the over-construction in Bulgarian mountains and along the Black Sea coast.

"In 2008, forests were a hot topic because of the land swaps. The crisis reigned in the construction boom and now this is not seen as such a serious problem", Konstantin Ivanov from WWF told journalists.

Both in 2008 and in 2011, nearly 80% of the polled supported the activities of environmental organizations against construction works in protected areas.

The newly revived project for the construction of hundreds of kilometers of ski tracks in Pirin and the arguments surrounding the so-called Rila-buffer zone, where investors want to develop large-scale resorts, are probably among the reasons why most of the respondents oppose the construction of new hotels and ski facilities in high mountain areas.

The people who have an opinion on the matter have declined considerably, dropping from 36% in 2006 to 14% today.

"Bulgarian society is relatively well-acquainted with the problems of the environment ", WWF Bulgaria head Veselina Kavyrkova said.

According to Alpha Research, other causes for concern are pollution caused by household waste and industrial chemicals and genetically modified organisms, as well as the unwillingness of the country to tackle its environmental problems.

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Tags: air pollution, WWF, Alpha Research, environmental protection, environment, Rila, Pirin, Stara Planina, Rhodope Mountains, Vitosha, ski tracks, overbuilding

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