Bulgarian Court Puts End on Plan to Build 66% of Nature Park

The environmental organizations, members of the Bulgarian Coalition “For the Nature”, won the case against the decision of the Ministry of the Environment and Waters (MoEWs) not to carry out an environmental assessment of the project for a new management plan for the Pirin National Park in the Pirin Mountain. They demand the dismissal of the Director of the National Nature Protection Service (NNPP) Miroslav Kalugerov.

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled on April 29, 2020, in the case of the lack of environmental assessment and compatibility assessment of the project for a new management plan for the Pirin National Park. The three-year-long court saga exposed the unfeasibility of the decision, signed by caretaker Environment Minister Irina Kostova, and defended in court by the director of the NNPP, Miroslav Kalugerov. Thus, the plan, which allowed for construction on 66% of the territory of the park and felling in 48% of the park, will not come into force.

The court ruling upheld the SAC’s previous decision in the Pirin case on the interpretation of the European Union (EU) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive, reaffirming that the Bulgarian MoEWs lacks basic understanding of European directives. This is illustrated by the many legal proceedings against Bulgaria in connection with EU environmental legislation.

The Court’s decision and its interpretation of the laws will be important, both, for the other national nature parks and for all other protected areas in Natura 2000 and plans or programs covered by the SEA Directive. True to his previous actions in the courtroom, the Director of the NNPP Miroslav Kalugerov personally attempted to convince the supreme judges of incorrect interpretations of three Bulgarian nature protection laws.

Under his leadership, a Bill was passed and tabled in the National Assembly (Parliament) to amend the Biodiversity Act, which demonstrates the same basic misinterpretation and ignorance when it comes to EU nature conservation directives. If the MoEWs expert leadership remains at this level of competency, much more public energy, human and financial resources will be wasted to deal with EU legal procedures, environmentalists warn.

That is why the Coalition “For the Nature” insists that Kalugerov be immediately dismissed due to lack of competence as he is the highest-level expert in the MoEWs to manage the “Protected Areas” and “Natura 2000” departments.

Bivol has consistently investigated over the years the origin and criminal nature of the interests behind the attempts to turn the unique Bulgarian mountain into an industrial and construction site. More on the subject can be found here.

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