Банкеръ Weekly


Thirty-eight Building Permits Go to Prosecution

Minister Zaharieva Makes Another Attempt to Save Black Sea Sand Dunes

Ekaterina Zaharieva will push prosecutors to protest against issued construction permits that threaten destruction of the dunes by the Black Sea. Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Policy and Regional Development Minister met with representatives of the "Save Coral Beach" Movement, the Head of the Directorate for National Construction Supervision Milka Gecheva and representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Water. Reasons for this request of Minister Zaharieva are the "severe irregularities" found in drafting the documents that make them null and void, experts from the regional ministry believe. According to them, the permits are issued, revalidated in their licenses without the accompanying acts required under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Acts. The decisions relating the assessment of the need for environmental impact assessment were issued in the period 2004-2006, and have lost their legal force. The term of validity of these estimates is five years, the Environmental Protection Act says. On the top of this all is the lack of appropriate assessments under the Biodiversity Act. All this provides a reasonable basis for the Directorate for National Construction Supervision and the mayor to halt any construction activities.

Zaharieva was adamant that she would not allow construction on the dunes. She reminded that the problem of Coral beach dates back from the period 2004-2006, when it was in the competences of the governor of Burgas, insofar the terrain was exclusive state property, before the adoption of the Law on the Black Sea coast. It was he who should have appealed the approved building plans for the beach neighboring properties.

The Regional Minister noted that the lack of cadastre showing the exact location of the dunes has led to construction activities and - to the destruction of nature. And supposedly for years this problem has been a priority for every minister, but until now there are no updated specialized maps and registers for 39 beach dunes along the Black Sea.

The name of Zaharieva, who is allegedly the closest person of President Rosen Plevneliev in the caretaker government, was involved years ago in the scandals around the dunes along the Black Sea. At the time Mr. Plevneliev was regional minister and Zaharieva was his deputy (in 2010), but the Regional Ministry then did not question in court the permits allowing the construction along Coral beach because you it forgot to pay the state fee of BGN20 levs. Now obviously Minister Zaharieva has decided to correct these omissions.

She said she was for the separation of beaches in categories, so that tourists may be aware what conditions are offered by each beach. According to her, a good measure would also be to name "green beaches", such as Coral Beach is. For putting such beaches at a concession the state can include requirements to limit the number of movable objects, the beach umbrellas and chaise longues. Many tourists prefer to travel to quiet places, and are not fond of noisy sports and entertainment facilities and love to see around them more natural dunes, green vegetation and forests instead of concrete buildings.

The Banker found out that the Directorate for National Construction Supervision will appeal before the state prosecution

a solid number of building permits

But whether this attempt to curb investors' appetite will lead to success, however, is quite controversial.

Dunes and wetlands as state property are not yet reflected in the cadastre, environmentalists warn. The coalition "For the Nature" insists that Agency for Geography, Geodesy and Cadastre should show publicly specialized cadastral maps, that have already been prepared but have not yet been adopted. Environmentalists also want to know which state properties have become private property in violation of the law and in favour of which individuals and companies.


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