Bulgaria's Long-Delayed Key Tunnel Project Gets Eco Permit

Business | March 26, 2012, Monday // 15:07
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's Long-Delayed Key Tunnel Project Gets Eco Permit The Shipka Pass Tunnel will be built south of the city of Gabrovo in Central Bulgaria. Map by bagbc.com

One of the largest infrastructure projects in Bulgaria – though still only imaginary – the Shipka Pass Tunnel – has received the approval of the Bulgarian Environment Ministry.

The Supreme Expert Environmental Council at the Minister granted a permit to the project on Monday, the Coalition for Sustainable Development, a NGO, has announced.

The tunnel at the Shipka Pass in the very middle of Bulgaria is supposed to provide a badly needed transport connection between the North and the South of the country, which are naturally separated by the Stara Planina (Balkan) Mountain.

The Shipka Pass Tunnel will also provide a faster route from the Danube River to the Mediterranean.

According to the investment proposal of Bulgaria's Road Infrastructure Agency, the future tunnel will start to the southwest of the city of Gabrovo and will go under the mountain to the existing road near the town of Shipka. The projected tunnel has been divided in five sections.

Representatives of Bulgarian NGOs, however, have declared their reservations during the discussions at the eco council (which features both government and NGO experts). The NGOs are concerned that the Shipka Pass Tunnell project might have a negative impact on the natural habitats and populations of some protected species.

Bulgaria's Cabinet has already slated for the long-delayed construction of the Shipka Pass Tunnel a total of BGN 352 M from the EU money it is to receive from the Transport Operational Program for the next programming period (2014-2020).

The Shipka Pass Tunnel was first initiated as a railway tunnel project in 1897 but was not materialized. It was resurrected in 1970, and then again in 1991 and 1999.

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Tags: Shipka Pass, Shipka Pass Tunnel, Balkan Mountains, Balkan Mountain, Environment Ministry, NGOs, protected species, Shipka, Gabrovo, tunnel, tunnel construction, operational program transport, EU funds, EU funding

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