CONSTRUCTION OF NEW SKI-TRACKS IN BANSKO PERMITTED BY COURT
A five-member team of the Supreme Administrative Court rejected the claim placed by the Balkani Wild Nature Association against the implementation of the project for the construction of new ski-tracks, ropetows, and ski-lifts in the Bankso resort (in the Pirin mountain). According to the magistrates, the Yulen company has not violated the Environment Protection Act, as the accusations against it read. The court pointed out that the Ministry of Environment and Waters has conducted the necessary public discussions on the matter with the participation of the Balkani Association. The regulations of the Territories Protection Act have not been violated either. Balkani motivated its claim by a provision in that law, prohibiting clear felling in national parks, such as the Pirin mountain is. The magistrates justified their ruling by the fact that law-makers have not explicitely defined the term clear felling.The recent court decision eliminates the hindrance to starting the implementation of the project, which is worth USD18MN. Construction may even begin by the year-end. Pirin Tourist, connected with First Investment Bank (FIB), is among Yulen's shareholders. The company is the owner of the local Bansko hotel, holds 51% of the airline Hemus Air, and a majority stake in the tour operator Balkan Holidays. The other shareholders in Yulen are the Bansko Municipality, the State Insurance Institute (DZI), Academica 2000 Ltd., Geotechmin Engineering, and the local Association of Private Hoteliers. Financing will be ensured by FIB, which has negotiated credits from Austrian and German banks, guaranteed by Austria's Kontrolbank and Germany's Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklung Gesellschaft. Deliveries for the new facilities will be made by the Austrian company Doppelmeier.Tourist entrepreneurs in the region believe that the construction of the new sports facilities will ensure full occupancy of the hotels in Bansko throughout the winter season and will provide stable means of living to the population in the region. Yulen intends to make Bankso a first-rate European winter resort.