Posted on 06 March 2017
The caretaker Minister decided no environmental assessments are needed
Sofia – Last week the Bulgarian government ignored the wish of 76,000 citizens already speaking up for the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in Bulgaria, and gave the green light to the destructive management plan for Pirin National Park. The decision ignores national law and UNESCO’s Committee recommendations.
The caretaker Minister of Environment and Water made a serious step towards allowing construction in Pirin that would jeopardize the wildlife in the region. The Minister issued a decision stating that the draft management plan does not require an environmental assessment which WWF and local organizations consider extremely threatening for Pirin. This decision is in contradiction with the Bulgarian environmental laws and deprive citizens of the opportunity to express their position, as the act was issued with an extremely short period of court appealing.
In the issued act, the Ministry claims that the new management plan will not have a significant negative impact on the environment and human health thus ecology assessments are not needed. The draft plan will allow construction on 12.5-times bigger territory compared to the current area and could lead to commercial logging affecting nearly 60 per cent of the park.
Bulgarian legislation and UNESCO’s recommendations violated
Two national laws are clearly ignored in the new ministry decision - the law on environmental protection and the Biodiversity conservation act. The caretaker government did not take into account UNESCO’s Committee recommendations either, given at its annual meeting in Istanbul in 2016. The Committee unequivocally highlighted that the new management plan of Pirin National Park must have an environmental assessment, and also an assessment of compatibility with the objectives of Natura 2000.
Civil society rights jeopardized
Over 78,000 people have signed the petition in support of Pirin National Park and the conservation of its pristine wildlife, sending a letter to the Bulgarian Prime Minister. This is the largest support for a nature territory and a WWF campaign in Bulgaria so far, showing the significant value of this area for the Bulgarian society. The Ministry showed lack of respect to all these citizens as the decision was issued with three-day period to appeal, on the eve of a three-day weekend holiday, practically leaving no time for civil response and proclamation of an independent institution like the court.
The next step for approval of the draft plan is to be submitted to the supreme expert environmental council. WWF urges the caretaker government to immediately reconsider the controversial decisions on such an important issue for the European nature.
Express your support and send a letter to the Prime Minister to take immediate action towards saving Pirin National Park: https://makeyourmark.panda.org/pirin
Note to Editors:
- Two national laws are ignored in the new ministry decision - the law on environmental protection and the Biodiversity conservation act. Both require an obligatory conduction of environmental assessments of all plans providing structural changes and possible construction developments in natural areas.
- WWF launched an international campaign
in support of Pirin National Park in November 2016: https://makeyourmark.panda.org/pirin