Bulgarian head of state President Roumen Radev has stepped in to the controversy around the future of Pirin National Park, describing the Environment Ministry’s decision not to do an environmental assessment of the project to update the management plan for the park as “premature”.
Radev made the comment in a social network post, as conservationists planned a protest at the Environment Ministry’s headquarters in capital Sofia on March 6 against the decision.
He said that the issue was a matter of general concern and he had spoken with caretaker Environment Minister Irina Kostova and with caretaker Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov “to find a transparent and accountable decision guaranteeing the public interest”.
Kostova’s decision was announced on the eve of Bulgaria’s March 3 Liberation Day three-day long weekend, arousing suspicions that the move had been made then to deter a possible appeal because of the three-day deadline to lodge one, reports in Bulgarian media said.
Conservationists argue that the revised management plan for Pirin National Park, an area that includes Bansko ski resort, would open the way for more extensive construction and timber logging.
Gerdzhikov, attempting to bring calm to the issue, said that Kostova’s decision to give the green light to the management plan for Pirin National park was not final.
“This is a draft. It is subject to submission to the Supreme Expert Environmental Council, which will invite all stakeholders, including environmental organisations, who would be able to present their objections,” Gerdzhikov said.
This would be followed by a final draft plan that would be presented to the Cabinet for approval, the caretaker Prime Minister said, adding that the law was being respected with no deviations from it.
He said that the conservationist groups should be aware that in developed countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France, there were hundreds of lifts and cable cars “but in country another lift is not being allowed in Bansko, where there are excellent conditions for skiing. We are lagging behind Europe in this regard”.
(Photo of Vihren Peak in Pirin National Park: Dido3)