Bulgarian court declares illegal a ski lift in Pirin National Park



Posted on 17 May 2013  | 
Sofia, Bulgaria - WWF has welcomed the final decision of Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court to declare illegal a ski lift built in 2011 in the controversial Bansko ski zone in Pirin National Park.

The 5-member jury states that the construction of the lift does not constitute repair, replacement or reconstruction of an existing facility, as stated by the concessionaire "Yulen", but constitutes the construction of a new sports facility with the length of over 1 km. As a new construction of this length, the project should have undergone a mandatory environment impact assessment.

In 2011, environmentalists appealed the permit given by the Ministry of Environment and Water for the construction of the lift on the grounds that no environment impact assessment had been carried out. Environmentalists signaled that the lift area, including its upper and lower stations, were outside the concession area and on the territory of the National Park where construction is prohibited.

The decision of the 5-member jury of the Supreme Administrative Court is a precedent which gives a clear interpretation of the concession contract for Bansko ski zone. WWF and "For the nature" coalition of NGOs continue to push for cancellation of the concession contract with “Yulen”. They are calling against any changes in the management plan of the National Park that would allow for new construction on its territory.

Additionally, WWF and "For the nature" coalition have been granted access to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Water, which makes it clear that two ski pistes and another lift in Bansko ski zone are also illegally built.

According to the official report the two pistes are not part of the concession agreement with "Yulen", nor are they part of the Management Plan of Pirin National Park, nor have they undergone any agreement procedures.

Environmentalists are calling for those government officials who have allowed for this to happen to be brought to justice. Despite being a National Park with the highest level of protection in the country, Pirin National Park sees the biggest number of breeches of legislation.

So far, more than 40,000 Bulgarians have signed a petition against the illegal consruction in Pirin National Park.
Pirin National Park as seen from Rila National Park
Pirin National Park from a far. Bansko ski zone is on the left-hand side of the photo
© WWF/Konstantin Ivanov Enlarge

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