Bulgarian President Roumen Radev vetoed on February 2 a bill meant to modify the rules for changing the status of lands designated for agricultural use.
The bill in question, amending the law on seeds and plant materials, contained additional provisions that modified sections of the Farmland Protection Act on the regulations for changing the status of farmlands – a necessary legal step if such lands were to be used for real estate development.
In a statement, the president’s office said that the amended regulations would weaken the special constitutional protections afforded to farmlands. Currently the designation of farmlands can be changed as a first step towards property development only in exceptional cases where there is a proven and clear need to do so.
But the bill features a number of procedural modifications that would make it easier for land owners to change the status of farmlands, such as no longer requiring a detailed site development plan as part of the land designation change proceedings.
“These regulatory changes will stimulate farmland owners to change their status and, for a prolonged period of time, not carry out any development, waiting for a convenient moment of investor interest,” the presidency said in its veto motives.
Radev said that any major legal changes affecting constitutional matters – in this case, protection of farmland – should go through the full legislative process. By amending the Farmland Protection Act using the transitional and final provisions of another law, Parliament risked to “create an impression that the goal is to avoid a wide public discussion and detailed motivation of the proposed changes,” the president’s office said.
(Photo: Dido Ivanov)