On April 14, at the end of the workday, maps of dunes at the camping sites “Coral” and “Yug” (South) appeared on the server of the Cadastre Agency, the Association “Let’s Preserve Coral” reported. This was caused by strong public pressure over another pouring of concrete on the beach of the camping site “South”.
The maps were ready as early as November of last year, but were unavailable online. The work on them accelerated after the scandal “Dunes Gate” in January 2013. Then, after the attempt of businessmen from SLE Group to build on the dunes in Nessebar, Bivol revealed that people close to the power have received lucrative plots from the forest fund near the sea at very reasonable prices. It turned out that dunes have been sold as forests and then-Minister Miroslav Naydenov wondered before TV cameras if they were actually dunes. Under public pressure it was decided to produce specialized maps of the dunes that were to become State property with a ban to build on them.
However, the work on the maps of the last undeveloped beaches dragged on because of opposition from local authorities. Over fear or other motivation, municipal representatives in committee refused to sign the minutes of the meetings as there were dunes on “private” lands with investment projects.
We put private in quotation marks because the scheme for the acquisition of the lands of “Coral” is a textbook example of political corruption. In 2002, then Mayor Petko Arnaudov sold 130 decares for 7 US dollars per square meter to shady businessmen, partners with the current Mayor of Burgas Dimitar Nikolov and with TV expert in everything Vladimir Karolev (agent “Kamen” from the Communist Secret Services – the State Security, DS). The price was low because the businessmen promised to the municipality to make large investments. Instead of investments, however, an ordinary land specula followed and three years later, the so-called investors resold the land acquired for pennies for 200-300 euro per square meter and earned tens of millions of euro. A natural reserve for the spring snowflake, which prevented the sale of the land at a good price, disappeared along with the signature of a fellow party member of Karolev. The lands were bought by the Spanish “Iberdrola”, which announced megalomaniac plans to build a holiday village – “Coral Beach Elite” – for 5,000 people. But public opposition, and especially the effect of “Dunes Gate” with the mapping of the dunes thwarted those plans.
The battle for “Coral” lasted seven years – since the first publications of Assen Yordanov about the corrupt deal, until today. “Coral” also ended in European media in a documentary about Bulgaria on French TV M6 and a report of Euronews from last spring.
The map that is published now shows that
at least 70% of the dunes are on such “private” plots and this practically suspends any desires for the construction of a huge holiday complex for 5,000 people. The dunes become State-owned, the State should buy them out and the long battle to save the beach is ending successfully. End of story.
This scenario has obviously been foreseen by the owners, because a last desperate attempt to start construction with old construction permits and an expired Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA.) was made last summer There was strong public reaction, after which the caretaker Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva stopped the construction permits for “Coral”, referred them to the Prosecutor’s Office, and committed to have the maps be adopted by the end of her term, which did happen.
The battle for the beach of camping site “South” and other places along the coast continues
The access to maps of the dunes was not possible online until April 13, after the breaking of the scandal with concrete on the sand of the neighboring to “Coral” former camping site “South”. This is the same bay, separated by cliffs descending into the sea to a larger beach – “Coral” and a smaller one – “South”.
The map of camping “South” has also been published on April 14 to SUPPORT the idea of the country’s rulers that there are no dunes there. Only that the old, and not the current map, was published. The effect is the opposite – it exposes a whopper of the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Lilyana Pavlova, who harnessed the full resources of the State to prove that the dunes covered in concrete were not dunes.
“The map is old, from 2012, from before the scandal “Dunes Gate”, before the change of the Act for the Development of the Black Sea Coast, before the team of surveying companies included experts-botanists from the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research and the Botanical Garden at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,” environmentalist Toma Belev, who was the initiator of the change in the law on the dunes, commented.
Even the old and wrong map shows that the terrain with the concrete is on the very dunes, but their border is drawn wrong. This is an error for the benefit of the owner – the Skoda distributor for Bulgaria Ivan Todorov. As an investigation of Bivol revealed, he has privatized the land in the vicinity of several southern beaches – “Kiten”, “South”, “Coral”, “Oasis” and “Nestinarka” and has sold them to some good people, including drug lord Brendo, to overdevelop them. And, he, himself, has built hotels on the sand. The fact is that public pressure for the camping “South” where there is an already-built hotel was not as strong as for “Coral”, which is without construction. This obviously had an impact on the borders of the dunes on paper.
On April 13, Minister Lilyana Pavlova promised half-heartedly that access to the maps of the dunes will be granted. And this access is really half-hearted, because there is no actual digital data that can be used to immediately draw the boundaries of the dunes in a modern GIS system, based on Google Maps, for example. In this sense, the coalition “For the Nature in Bulgaria” appeals for granting access to the primary data of the maps for which taxpayers paid after the legislative amendment “Dunes Gate” and have the right to use them.
If these data are to be provided, “Let’s Preserve Coral” promise that they will quickly incorporate them into a modern GIS and in a web-based GIS platform, available for free use by the public. The idea is that everyone who notices questionable construction near the beach would be able to verify its exact position on the maps and alert the authorities if the plot is actually located on dunes.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian