The Bulgarian Court Obliges the Environment Minister to Make an Eco-assessment of Pirin Park
A three-member panel of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) repealed the decision of Environment Minister Nino Dimov not to carry out an environmental assessment of the changes in the management of Pirin Park. Separately, the supreme magistrates give obligatory directions to Dimov to observe the laws on protected areas and the protection of the environment. Bulgarian legislation explicitly requires an environmental assessment when planning activities in protected areas.
The case was filed by the WWF World Wildlife Fund and the Parks Association in Bulgaria and the SAC's appeal can be appealed within 14 days.
At the end of January, the government canceled the decision, which created the opportunity to build ski slopes and a new lift in Pirin. This was expected because before that, the SAC ruled that the cabinet had violated the law by adopting changes to the plan without first assessing their impact on the territory. With the current decision, the court confirms its practice and even goes further, obliging Neno Dimov to make an eco-appraisal.
At the beginning of last year, the Council of Ministers changed the plan for the management of the park, motivating the need to build a second gondola lift from Bansko to ski aptitudes. The concessionaire of the facilities and runways is the company "Yulen", and recently its owner was named ski legend Mark Girardelli.
Meanwhile environmentalists have introduced a vision for the long-term development of the national park and tourism in the region. They believe that the Bansko winter resort would have much bigger business potential if its development is not entirely subordinated to ski tourism that damages nature in the Pirin National Park and favors interested entities.
They offer instead of new ski facilities modernization of the current ones, turning the ski slopes in summer into a place for extreme cycling and organizing exploratory excursions to archaeological sites in the park.