Representatives of the coalition of non-governmental organizations and civic groups “For the Nature in Bulgaria” met with the Minister of Environment and Waters Ivelina Vasileva over the scandalous way of drawing the new plans for the management of the Vitosha Nature Park and the National Parks Rila and Pirin.
Vassileva was warned that there is a risk that the three most popular Bulgarian mountains will be built-up, and this will happen through their new draft management plans that are funded by the European Union (EU). The Coalition “For the Nature in Bulgaria” wants to protect the Rila, Pirin and Vitosha mountains from destruction and to save the money of Bulgarian taxpayers as it must eventually replace the failed European funding.
The environmentalists urged the State as the principal of three plans and the Environment Ministry as the institution in charge of spending EU funds for environmental projects to send back the drafts to the three parks for complete revision. After that they should be presented for new public debates before being submitted for approval to the Environment Ministry and the Council of Ministers.
There is a serious danger of losing nearly 8 million levs in EU funds. Because of poor State control over the work of contractors of these management plans, they are not fulfilling their tasks. Meanwhile, there is purposeful effort to lift the bans on new construction in the parks Rila, Pirin and Vitosha through changes in their zoning and regimes. The responsibility for allowing construction is being transferred from the government to municipalities. Opportunities for public discussion of the plans are also being purposefully limited.
The Environment Ministry stated that the approval of the management plans for the three parks will be in compliance with the relevant tasks and legal norms. The Regulation on the Development of Management Plans for Protected Areas will be updated in order to improve opportunities for public discussions.
Numerous warnings of legal breaches in the development of the new management plans for Rila, Pirin and Vitosha that have been repeatedly submitted to the Environment Ministry have not yielded any result. Despite their poor performance, the companies that are preparing them have received the majority of their payments. As result, extremely incomplete and flawed draft plans are being presented at the public hearings. Their enforcement through the action and inaction of the institutions favors oligarchic interests and threatens with irreversible destruction our most precious natural heritage and wealth.
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