Commission on Bansko ski zone delays findings by 10 days

The interdepartmental commission investigating the ski zone in Bansko, where there is continuing controversy about plans for expanded ski facilities and a second cableway, has delayed its findings by 10 days.

The move, announced on February 17, came amid allegations by environmental conservation groups – subsequently denied – that prosecutors had found numerous violations of the law in the existing ski zone.

The “Preserve the Nature in Bulgaria” coalition issued a media statement making this claim, to which the Yulen company, holder of the concession in Bansko, responded by sending out a report by the Blagoevgrad prosecutor’s office saying that the investigation into alleged violations, started in 2010, had been terminated after none had been found.

On February 18, Bulgarian National Radio reported the coalition’s Alexander Dunchev as saying that no one had seen the investment proposals for expanding the ski area and no one had seen the investment proposal for a second cableway life, but at the same time “locals have been enticed to protest in favour of something no one has ever seen”.

He also alleged that where breaches of the law were found, there was deliberate foot-dragging by officialdom so that the statute of limitations would make prosecutions impossible.

The previous day, a group of residents of Bansko held the latest in a series of protests demanding the go-ahead for the expansion of the ski zone and the building of a second lift.

Environment Minister Ivelina Vasileva said on February 17 that the working group which was to come up with a solution for the concession of the Bansko ski area had requested an extension of 10 days.

Vassileva said that even if the green light was given for a second cable lift, it would have to be in strict compliance with environmental legislation.

In Parliament, nationalist coalition the Patriotic Front read a declaration on February 18 calling for the construction of a second lift in Bansko.

The Patriotic Front, which backs the current centre-right coalition cabinet headed by GERB leader Boiko Borissov, said that “the question, ‘should there be a second lift in Bansko?’ is rhetorical. The experts have given the answer, that in Bulgaria, 60 new lifts are needed for the development of sustainable eco-tourism in the mountains”.

Last week, Bansko mayor held meetings with Prime Minister Borissov, President Rossen Plevneliev and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tsetska Tsacheva, with each of the three speaking afterwards in favour of the further development of Bansko.

The Bansko expansion and ski lift plan already has been endorsed in public statements by the country’s tourism and sports ministers.



The Sofia Globe staff

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