Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on February 28 2013 to impose an almost-complete ban on dunes at the country’s Black Sea coast, with exceptions that would allow building for sites of national significance, those related to national security and for essential infrastructure.
The law is among a number identified as urgent business for Parliament before it is prorogued ahead of Bulgaria’s ahead-of-term national parliamentary elections on May 12 2013.
Lyuben Tatarski, head of Parliament’s committee on regional development, said that the ban would apply to zones A and B along the coastline.
He said that the exceptions were necessary, for instance, to permit projects such as the South Stream gas pipeline to go ahead. The exception would mean that if South Stream had to go under a dune area, the law would not stop it.
The legislation is a sequel to national controversies at the start of 2013 about building projects in ecologically sensitive dune areas at Nessebur and Irakli at the Black Sea coast.
The construction projects resulted in large-scale public protests in several cities and a march on Parliament.
Media reports in January exposed a construction project at Coral Beach that, among other things, endangered a rare Spring Snowflake species. Reports at the time said that the construction permit had been issued illegally.
In the Nessebur case, environmental conservation groups and the media sounded the alarm when it was established that work was being done on land clearance and construction in a dune area.
The controversy led to intervention from national government level and firings of a number of senior officials, and in turn, an investigation into land swop deals from 2003 onwards.