Scandalously Plowed Bulgarian Beach Dune Turns Out To Be Cheap Farmland

by Екип на Биволъ

The price paid by Plamen Ivanov in 2000 for the beach property, which became notorious last weekend for being a dune illegally plowed by excavators, had been BGN 16 for 1,000 square meters, reveals a check by Bivol in the Cadaster and the Property Register.

The current owner of the plot on the Smokinya (Fig) beach, Ivan Nonchev, who was accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of the destruction of the dune, has paid BGN 5,000 last year for 683 square meters from the same property. The remaining 317 square meters of the beach property are already exclusive State property. The available entries in the Property Register do not make clear the date of their expropriation.

In the late 1990s and the turn of the 21st century, Plamen Ivanov has bought from local people a large area of properties on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast in the area of ​​the beach town of Sozopol in the sites “Budzhaka” and Kavatsi and has subsequently resold them, the registries show. His deals, however, seem to be systematically carried out at unrealistically low prices.

The status of the land has remained the same over the years – farmland, and the new owner Ivan Nonchev has placed a trailer on it. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, he ordered the destruction of the dune to two people, for which he paid BGN 1,000. He denies these claims.

Bivol also explored the neighboring terrain, also located on dunes. Some of them are State-owned, but there are also those that are private and even have the status of land for construction. All this means that more scandals with the dunes there are forthcoming.

Until an excavator destroys them, or the State buys them out

The expropriation of the dunes in favor of the State was promised years ago by then-Minister of Regional Development, Lilyana Pavlov,a after a series of scandals with their destruction by entrepreneurs close to the government. The most notorious of them became known as Dunes Gate six years ago, when Bivol proved that the Agriculture Ministry had given away the dunes at rock-bottom prices as farmland to businessmen close to the country’s rulers.

The Dunes Gate scheme is the brainchild of the scandalous architect Kalin Tiholov, known to be close to  Yordan Tsonev, an influent lawmaker from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS, mostly representing the country’s Muslim minority) and the party’s Lifetime Honorary Chairman Ahmed Dogan. Tsonev has participated in a number of other schemes for seizing valuable lands along the coast and in particular in the Nature Park in the Strandja Mountain.

The outcome of the Dunes Gate scandal was the adoption of a law that requires the dunes to be mapped and indicated on special cadastral maps and then to be turned into a State property. Six years later, the special maps are not yet entirely ready and no expropriation procedures had been carried out.

Meanwhile, almost every year there is a new scandal with destroyed dunes, as the owners are in a hurry to plane them down, build on them and to present the State with a fait accompli. For its part, the government is in no hurry to stop them, and even helps them with its inaction.

This was the case with the dunes on the beach camping site “South“, in the northern part of the “Coral” beach, where a hotel was built. In theory, the State National Construction Control should have already started a demolition procedure, but there has not been and there isn’t such a move.

There is a similar tolerance by the State in the case with the outrageous Mafia hotel “Dune”, built directly on the beach in the “Sunny Beach” resort.

What should the State urgently do?!

The coalition of non-profit organizations and civil groups “For the Nature in Bulgaria” warns that the latest plowing and destruction of dunes is a serious violation of the legislation and shows the State’s incapability to preserve nature.

The natural landmark has been declared as such by an order as early as 1984 to preserve the habitats of rare species. Accordingly, it prohibits activities that damage or alter both the natural appearance of the site and its water regime, as well as any construction, the entry of motor vehicles, the rooting or picking of plants, etc.

An inspection by the eco activists shows that a large part of the gray dunes in the natural landmark near the camping site “Smokinya” is private property and listed as farmland. But even in the case of private ownership, under the Biodiversity Act, the owner is cannot destroy species that could be found on plowed dunes.

Therefore:

– All dunes should be included in Zone A under the Black Sea Coast Planning Act;

 – All dunes on the cadastral map should be listed as such and not as vineyards, farmland or pastures as is currently the case;

 – All illegally-swapped farmlands (as is most likely the case of the Smokinya dunes) and forests for which there is a final decision at the level of the European Union that has not been implemented by the Bulgarian government, should be returned to the State

 – The State to fulfill its obligation under the Black Sea Coast Planning Act and to expropriate all privatized or restituted dunes, most of which are farmland. There are funds for this in the Operational Program “Environment 2014-2020”;

– All movable objects placed on the dunes should be removed;

 – Destroyed and damaged dunes must be recovered under the Environmental Liability and Environmental Damage Liability Act (LOD).

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