Bulgarian Highway Construction: NGOs Demand Bypass Around Kresna Gorge

Written by on March 4, 2017 in Bulgaria, Latest - No comments

In connection with the planned completion of the motorway from the Bulgarian capital Sofia to Thessaloniki in Greece, non-governmental organizations are demanding a bypass around Kresna Gorge. One NGO, Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE), is saying, if Bulgaria built that highway through the gorge, the country would have to return 781 million Euro to the European Commission, since it would not adhere to regulations. On top of that, it would hurt nature substantially.

Kresna Gorge, which quite a few initiatives have been trying to protect for a while now, is home to 3,500 species of flora and fauna, says FOEE. According to them, many kinds of snakes live in the gorge, along with turtles and bats found nowhere else in Europe. Supposedly, there are more species of butterflies in Kresna Gorge than in all of the United Kingdom.

A decision on which route to follow during the construction of Struma Motorway, the northern part of which already exists, connecting Sofia to Blagoevgrad, is due in April of 2017. The FOEE said, there were “good alternatives” to a route through the gorge. The organization says, the rest of the motorway had to be completed by 2023 and it needed to be in full compliance with E.U. Nature Laws. Otherwise Bulgaria would have to return the huge grant mentioned.

Under the Borissov government, which stepped down recently, an Environmental Impact Assessment was being carried out, in order to establish pros and cons regarding the route. At this moment, it is unclear whether the process is continuing. Originally, it was supposed to be completed towards the end of April. The Bulgarian public will have the opportunity to comment on the outcome of the assessment, before any decision is being taken.

The FOEE is demanding an improved implementation of nature laws on the part of the European Union. They reminded E.U. Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella of his recent pledge to work on this aspect.

The fate of Kresna Gorge, its eco system, plants and animals now depends on the right decision. “The only right decision bypasses the gorge”, an ecologist told this publication.

By im.

Photo: Kresna Gorge by Andon Kamenarov 

 

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