The EC Has Threatened to Sue BG, Environmentalists Are Taking to the Streets
Environmentalists are organizing a national protest on July 7 to protect Bulgarian nature. On June 25, a mass protest took place against the planned changes to the Biodiversity Act, which provide for an update of the scope of the “Natura 2000” network. The amendments have been introduced by the United Patriots since the term of office of Neno Dimov in the Ministry of Ecology and give it the power to change the Natura 2000 zones without taking into account the scientific data. The demands of the protest remain unchanged: the MPs should accept those proposals in the bill that do not affect the “Natura 2000” network or not change the law at all; suspension of Aleppu construction and conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); suspension of construction in Strandzha Nature Park.
The Tuesday protests will take place in Sofia, Aytos, Blagoevgrad, Botevgrad, Burgas, Varna, Dupnitsa, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Sliven, Sozopol, Shumen and Coral Beach. Other cities are expected to join. The organizers call for strict anti-epidemic measures during the events, such as keeping a distance of a meter and a half and wearing masks.
"Bulgaria continues to disregard the requirements of European environmental legislation due to non-declaring of protected areas for habitats and can be convicted for this. If Bulgaria does not declare the protected areas for the habitats of the ecological network “Natura 2000” within three months, the country will be charged. This is another recognition of BG state abdication from the obligation to systematically protect the national natural resource.”
The EC's announcement comes alongside daily examples of brazen defiance of environmental legislation in construction and pollution of the Black Sea coast, construction and logging in national and nature parks, illegal logging in forests and pollution and destruction of rivers. The catastrophic situation is obviously beyond the control of the responsible institutions and the environmental coalition together with partners from all over the country is organizing a second national protest to sound the alarm and call upon the government for urgent measures," warns the coalition of non-governmental organizations and civic groups "BG Nature should stay".
The warning letter from the EC came after several notifications from the Commission that Bulgaria is delaying the determination of habitat areas approved by the EC. Despite the warnings of the EC, the MoEW declared 11 zones only out of a total of 234 and made three changes to the Biodiversity Act regarding the deadline for declaring the zones (BDA, 2007 - 2 years; BDA, 2010 - 4 years; BDA, 2013 - 6 years). The delay in declaring zones by more than 6 years threatens Bulgaria with another criminal procedure, whose fines will have to be paid by the Bulgarian taxpayers. In addition, any property owner in “Natura 2000” habitat areas loses significant funds for compensatory payments. Last but not least, the lack of orders declaring protected areas creates conditions for the countless and indiscriminate construction violations of the last wild places in Bulgaria, as well as for the overbuilding of the Black Sea coast and mountain resorts.