Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

BULGARIAN BLACK SEA COAST TO WAIT FOR BETTER TIME

If you stay on the coast in Seeland area, you'll see both the majesty of the open sea and the fruit of the human work - ports and seaside towns contrasting to the dunes that surround them. However, the horizon looks quite different in the Waden area. Canals, sand coasts, birds, seals and beacons...Along with its safety and economy, the Dutch government finds its nature important, too - for example, the dunes and the free horizon that can be seen from the coast. All these issues are taken into account by the Dutch Planning System which operates on three levels - governmental, provincial and municipal. A National Space Development Strategy prepared in collaboration with four ministries was announced in public last year. A priority task in the coastal areas is the protection against flood and the preservation of the spatial nature of the coast line. We want to keep the horizon from the coast free, therefore no construction works are permitted along the beaches and within 12 miles inside the sea. The coast has lots of functions. That's why the three state levels need to work together and know what problems there are not just in the other ministries but in the provinces and municipalities, too. It is important for the residents and the entrepreneurs to know what construction plans are possible in their regions and why. In our coast area there are many residents who are ready to help us maintain the coast as attractive and unique as it is today.(Part of the statement made by Desiree Bokma, spatial planning expert in the Dutch Ministry of House Building, Spatial Planning and Environment, during the seminar on stable growth and management of coastal areas which took place in the Sunny Beach resort on 8 and 9 April.)If only things could look as clear and well-arranged in Bulgaria as they look in the Netherlands! However, this seems almost impossible considering, for example, that the ministers have been delaying the adoption of the Black Sea Coast Act for a year. Twelve months have passed since the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works presented the draft officially. And it seems that it will remain on paper at least until the mandate of the present cabinet and parliament expires. And then what? According to information provided by the Ministry of Regional Development, the text has been sent back by the Ministry of Finance three times. The financial experts refused to approve it since it did not reveal its financial sources. The money in question is BGN1.2MN needed for the preparation of town plans of the Black Sea coast municipalities. Now the team led by Deputy Minister of Regional Development Savin Kovachev is trying to reallocate the funds for roads, cadastre, and sanation of prefab buildings in order to help the draft come to light. The regulation of the Council of Ministers stipulates that a draft cannot be brought forward for approval if it is not financially ensured, the PRs of the two institutions explained.But in the meantime, one of the salt lakes near Pomorie was drained and the municipal council changed the statute of the land in order to enable the construction of a hotel. In another case, a man living in Sozopol managed to sell a rock in the sea on which a luxurious villa would be built. Although these examples sound as part of the local folklore, they are quite real. Despite being criticized, the draft has one great advantage - it would have put some order in the utilisation of the coastal territories and mostly those in the immediate proximity to the beach. More than 120 hotels are currently being built on the Black Sea coast - most of them in the Golden Sands and Sunny Beach resorts. It sounds disturbing that some of the new sites are being constructed on ground that should be protected. That is why the Union of Hotel Owners in Sunny Beach initiated a campaign for declaring the sand dunes protected territory in accordance with the eponymous law adopted in 1998. Dunes are an extreme public state property but they are still attracting interest. Moreover, there is already a precedent - a hotel was built on the beach. We know that last year the construction ministry was asked to change the statute of 500 dka of sand strip. We brought a proposal for declaring the land protected territory to the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Waters. It was supported by the Ecology Department of the municipality of Nessebar and was coordinated with the ecological inspection in Bourgas, Elena Ivanova, Chairperson of the organisation explained. Her colleagues worry that the Sunny Beach resort is losing its face and is gradually becoming a built-up area, especially in its western part. The territory has been occupied by construction entrepreneurs from Nessebar, Bourgas, Plovdiv and Sofia who build high-level residence complexes, although the land has been declared an area zoned for summer houses.Construction works along the Black Sea Coast should finish by May 15Then the National Construction Control Direction will start large-scale inspections. It is a problem that many of the sites in Sunny Beach will remain unfinished. It means that the adjoining infrastructure will not be restored, either, the mayor of Nessebar Nikolay Trifonov said. This is mostly valid for the western part of the resort and not for the eastern one where there are only three or four hotels under construction. The mayor is convinced that the capacity of the enlarged waste water purifying station that serves Nessebar, Ravda and Aheloy will be able to serve the new complexes, too. Still, the same cannot be said about the electricity and water supply, so there is a real danger that restrictions may be imposed in the busiest months of the season. A problem of that kind will also threaten most built-up areas along the southern seaside such as Tsarevo, Ahtopol, Sinemorets, Varvara and Rezovo. In the past year alone, they have grown by several kilometres to the north and south due to the changed statute of the surrounding agricultural estates included in regulation.The seaside is gradually urbanizingand getting highly populated. This will inevitably reflect on the tourism. Hotels will have to be destroyed in the large resorts, the Chairman of the Union of Architects in Bulgaria, architect Ivan Stanishev, predicted. Sunny Beach seems to be most endangered as its plan provides 20% building-up density and the rate has already reached 85 per cent. The complex cannot grow to the south and to the north, because it already reached the village of Vlas and Nessebar. That's why construction has continued in its western part lately, the architect explained.Tour operators are discussing the negative consequences of the accommodation oversupply, too, and are reporting a 10-11% decline in the registrations. According to the Bulgarian Chamber of Tourism, the number of accommodations will go beyond 50,000 in the next season, whereas the hotel beds have grown by ten thousand for the past year alone. Despite a number of negative tendencies such as the extreme development and oversupply, I think that we can rely on an 8 to 10% growth of the number of tourists, Professor Tsvetan Tonchev who presides the chamber said.

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