Bulgaria Probes 6 Protected Area Construction Tipoffs

Environment | January 12, 2013, Saturday // 18:42|  views

After the "Dunes Gate" scandal, it emerged that an entire district of Bulgaria's historic coastal town of Nessebar, could have been built on protected sand dunes. File photo

The inter-institutional ad hoc committee in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Burgas has received six tipoffs about construction activities in protected coastal areas.

According to Burgas Regional Governor, Konstantin Grebenarov, who reported the news Saturday, three of the sites are already being probed.

All tipoffs were for construction in the historic coastal town of Nessebar.

The first one has been for the notorious Nessebar Cherno More (Black Sea) district. The probe established that protected areas have not been affected, but all documentation is yet to be examined. The committee, however, is not checking how the terrains have been taken out of the State forest fund.

The probe of the other two showed that one was not in a protected area while there was no construction on the other.

Meanwhile, the co-Chairman of the right-wing Blue Coalition, Martin Dimitrov, commented the fact the scandalous deal now-known as "Dunes Gate" was signed by a Deputy Agriculture Minister during the only day Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, was away, was very suspicious.

Dimitrov stated it was important for Naydenov to come to a hearing in the Parliament, in addition to constantly speaking before the media.

The scandal with construction activities on 29 decares of protected sand dunes between Ravda and Nessebar on the Black Sea coast erupted in the last days of 2012 when environmentalists said that the area was part of the Aheloy-Ravda-Nessebar protected area from the Natura 2000.

As a result, it became clear that the area was sold without a tender based on an older law that was in force until 2010. The new Forestry Act, passed in 2011, technically does not provide any way of selling State land without tenders but it said it allowed procedures that started before 2010 to be completed under the older law.

In the aftermath, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, ordered Bulgaria's Ministers of Regional Development, Agriculture, and Environment to update the Forestry Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Biological Diversity Act, and the Black Sea Coast Organization Act "so that such deals and construction projects couldn't be allowed."

The PM also vowed that all deals will be probed by the special ad hoc committee.

On Monday, the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Lilyana Pavlova, pledged that legal amendments will be tabled ASAP to lead to a full ban on construction activities in Bulgaria on plots listed as sand dunes.

All procedures that have been launched for changing statute of protected lands, and that remain open, will be annulled.

Pavlova further promised to have more precise definition of the term "sand dune." The Minister of Environment and Waters has a deadline of one year to propose a list of dunes and adjacent terrains.

Construction will be further banned in all protected areas listed in Natura 2000.

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Tags: Burgas, Konstantin Grebenarov, Regional Governor, protected area, Agriculture Minister, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, sand, Dunes, dune, Regional Development Minister, Nessebar, Lilyana Pavlova, Black Sea coast, NATURA 2000, Directorate for National Construction Control, Forestry Act, Miroslav Naydenov, NGOs, For the Nature, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, probe, Dunes Gate, corruption, Svetla Boyanova, GERB, protected areas, construction, Blue Coalition, Martin Dimitrov


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