Public protests planned against Bulgaria’s new Pirin National Park plan

Written by on January 4, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Public protests planned against Bulgaria’s new Pirin National Park plan

Public protests are being organised by Bulgarians on Facebook against the Cabinet’s decision to approve the amendments to the Pirin National Park management plan, which are widely seen as paving the way for the construction of a second ski lift in the Bulgarian winter resort, but renewed property development in areas near the resort.

For years, the issue has pitted the municipality and local residents, who have lobbied in favour of a second lift, against environmental protection groups, who fear that any changes would lead to overdevelopment of the Pirin mountain range, a Unesco world heritage site.

Bulgaria’s For the Nature non-governmental organisation, which is organising the protest rallies, claimed that the Cabinet’s decision, taken at its December 28 2017 sitting, breached both Bulgarian and EU regulations and would not solve the issue of overdevelopment and low property prices in Bansko. The group is asking for the government to overturn its earlier decision and for the resignation of Environment Minister Neno Dimov.

Rallies on the evening of January 4 are planned in capital Sofia, as well as Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas, Rousse, Veliko Turnovo, Stara Zagora, Svilengrad, Svishtov, Doupnitsa and Kazanluk.

In reply, the mayor of Bansko Georgi Ikonomov has asked residents of Bansko to attend a counter-rally, threatening to block the E79 motorway to Greece.

Over the past week, Dimov has repeatedly attempted to allay fears that the amended Pirin National Park management plan would lead to more property development, saying that vowed that any proposed investment in a second ski lift would have to meet all the environmental review requirements, but efforts have been unsuccessful so far.

It has not helped that Bansko municipality is pushing through urbanisation plans that would allow property development in areas in the immediate vicinity of the Pirin National Park, which, environmental activists claim, could result in the construction of hotels with a cumulative 40 000 beds.

(The existing capacity of Bansko’s ski lift frequently leads to long queues. Photo: Lance Nelson/banskoblog.com)

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