Bulgarian Eco NGO Triumphs in Court Battle for Irakli Beach

Environment | September 14, 2011, Wednesday // 21:01|  views

Environmental activists are pictured in 2006 collecting signatures against resort construction at the Irakli beach, a battle that has dragged on for six years. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

A Bulgarian NGO has defeated in court an offshore investor, which planned to build a resort complex in the Irakli-Emine protected area on the Black Sea coast.

The Appellate Court in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Burgas ruled late Wednesday night that the investment approval granted at the end of 2008 by the Burgas Regional Environment and Waters Inspectorate to offshore investor Swiss Properties is illegal.

The suit against the construction of the resort complex was filed by "Let's Save Irakli", a civil society NGO of environmentalists, activists, and professionals, who have been in three-year struggle, including by staging protest rallies in Irakli and in Sofia.

Back in 2008, the Burgas environmental authorities granted an investment permit to Swiss Properties for the construction of a resort complex called Riverside Village on the Vaya River, near the Irakli beach not far from Cape Emine.

The decision, which spurred the creation of the "Let's Save Irakli" NGO, was approved with the argument that it would not damage the nature in the Emine-Irakli area, which is included in the European protected areas network NATURA 2000.

The ruling of the Burgas Appellate Court can be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court in Sofia but the environmentalist NGO has hailed as a great success, thanking the Danube-Carpathian Program of the World Wildlife Fund, the Bulgarian wildlife association "Balkani", and supportive lawyers for their expert role.

"This is a huge step not only in the protection of a unique place such as Irakli but also the protecting the civic position of thousands of Bulgarians against an offshore company registered in the Swiss canton of Zug, and which has been violating Bulgarian legislation systematically," "Let's Save Irakli" said in a statement.

The group has been active in the protection of the Irakli beach area with its unique nature for the past 6 years.

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Tags: Irakli, Let's Save Irakli, Emine, NATURA 2000, protected area, Burgas, Burgas Appellate Court, Swiss Properties, offshore companies, Riverside Village, Black Sea, Black Sea coast, Vaya river, environmentalists, NGO, WWF

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