Bulgaria’s National Assembly approved on June 13 the second reading of amendments to the Black Sea Act that ban tents, as well as vehicles including campers and caravans, from the country’s Black Sea dunes.
The amendments introduce a legal possibility to create, outside areas of the sea beaches and official campsites, areas where the temporary placement of tents, campers and caravans is permitted.
The inclusion of tents in the ban was criticised by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).
BSP MP Filip Popov said that it was “really scary” to deprive Bulgarian citizens of the opportunity go to nature “which is the wealth of the Bulgarians, it is a question of personal culture and hygiene to preserve this wealth, to have a tent”.
For the ruling majority, GERB MP Alexander Nenkov argued that the restriction on tents was meant to introduce clear rules.
“From tent to tent, there is a big difference. I can say that no one wants to put people in a heavily regulated environment, but on the contrary, some kind of system must be created, to define certain places where people can have a holiday in this way, but just to have clarity who bears the responsibility, are there sanctions, if for example you leave behind refuse,” Nenkov said.
“I will give you the example of Greece, where you cannot go to an unapproved place and put your tent, camper or anything else,” he said.
BSP MP Yavor Boyanchev said that the amendments were “somewhat extreme”.
“There should be order, but you cannot equate tents with campers and caravans. This in practice means not a restriction, but a prohibition of free camping. A trend which in Europe is the other way around,” Boyanchev said.
Iskren Vesselinov, head of the parliamentary committee on regional development, said that everything would be specified in an ordinance yet to be drafted, but which would open the possibility of camping outside official campsites.
The amendments envisage a fine of 1000 leva (about 500 euro) for putting a tent on a dune, and 3000 leva in the case of an individual, and 5000 leva in the case of a company, for a caravan.
Removed from the final version of the amendments was a ban on a putting a towel on a dune.
The amendments have been sharply criticised by Bulgarian environmental conservation organisations, for a failure to define properly the dunes to be covered by the ban, and for a failure to legislate against construction on dunes. The organisations have said that they are considering protests and calling for a presidential veto.
(Archive photo: Fred Green/freeimages.com)