Bulgarian Eco Activists Warn of Nationwide 'Strandzha' Rally
Bulgarian eco activists from the coalition "For the Nature" are planning a nationwide protest next Tuesday against construction in Strandzha Nature Park.
They remind that the Minister of Environment and Waters has the authority to annul the controversial general development plan of the Tsarevo municipality on the Black Sea coast.
One of them, Toma Belev, former Director of Vitosha Mountain Park, said that environmentalists want to have general development plans only with environmental impact assessments in order to prevent mass construction on the only remaining wild beaches in the country.
At the end of January, thousands Bulgarians braced the freezing cold and wind to stage protest rallies in the capital Sofia against plans to allow construction in preserved coastal areas of the Strandza mountain.
Similar demonstrations were held in the cities of Burgas, Plovdiv, Ruse and Sliven.
Fears of turning parts of the Park into concrete towns, as is now the rest of Black Sea coast, flared after a recent rule of the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) 5-judge panel, endorsing the general development plan of Tsarevo municipality. This gives green light to construction on the southern coast from the village of Varvara all the way down to the Turkish border even though it is a protected area of Strandzha Park.
The 5-judge panel overruled the decision of a 3-member panel of VAS which declared the urban plan illegal after a 5-year-long court battle of Bulgarian environmentalists.
The case against the general development plan of Tsarevo was filed in 2008 by the Association of Parks in Bulgaria and endured a number of twists, ending in the recent VAS decision.
Organizers of the protest rallies say they will keep staging them to save Bulgaria's nature and warn the government they will approach the European Commission and European Parliament with a petition describing environmental abuses in the country.
The petition already has 20 000 signatures and will be submitted next week to the above institutions and to a number of institutions in the country.
Promises of Bulgarian politicians, such as the Minister of Environment and Waters, Iskra Mihaylova, and of the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Sergey Stanishev that they will monitor all activities in the park and would not allow construction failed to appease the eco activists, who insist on concrete actions on the part of the government.