Karadere construction ‘will not go ahead’ – Bulgarian environment minister

The controversial large-scale resort complex planned for the near-unspoilt Karadere beach area on the Black Sea coast will not go ahead because it affects two areas protected by the EU-wide Natura 2000 environmental conservation network, according to Bulgaria’s environment minister, Iskra Mihailova.

But at the same time, she hinted that if the project was reduced in scale, it might get permission.

National indignation erupted after the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet, at a regular meeting on March 19, approved the granting of a Class A investor certificate to the Madara Europe company, which plans to begin construction in September of the complex, involving three hotels and other facilities.

Speaking to pro-government TV7 on March 25, Mihailova said that the cabinet’s approval of a memorandum of understanding between the government and the investor did not mean receipt of an environmental impact assessment.

The memorandum opens the way for the company to get all documents necessary to build in the area, through a fast-track procedure provided for by the Investment Promotion Act.

Mihailova said that before such a project could proceed, an environmental impact assessment must be received.

“Without an environmental impact assessment, for us this project does not exist,” she said.

Mihailova said that the project developer had not been in contact with her and she knew nothing about the owners of the company.

Prime minister Plamen Oresharski has described them as a group of British business people, while Bulgarian media reports have identified Bulgarians involved in the project.

“My personal belief and the conviction of the ministry is that we must be very clear to investors. They are welcome if they create jobs,” Mihailova said, adding that her ministry would support projects but only under certain conditions.

She said that she would propose to the cabinet that before such projects could proceed, an environmental impact assessment must be obtained.

According to Mihailova, a “reasonable investor”, before starting such a project, would check up on its viability given that there are protected areas in the region.

Mihailova’s ministry was due to hold a discussion of investment objectives and environmental legislation in Bulgaria at a “public council” meeting on March 25, apparently in response to the Karadere controversy.

She said that the current project was a “reboot” of a project launched in 2008, which at the time caused a negative public reaction because of the planned construction and serious uncertainties about land swops involving protected areas in the region.

(Photo: Svilen Enev)



The Sofia Globe staff

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