Bulgaria May Face Court over EU Nature Protection Laws
The European Commission continues with the next stage of infringement proceedings against Bulgaria because the country keeps neglecting the impact of wind turbines and other projects on the flora and fauna in protected areas of the Kaliakra peninsula.
On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Poto?nik, the EC is sending a reasoned opinion to ask Bulgaria to comply with EU legislation in the sphere.
According to a statement of the EC press office, if Bulgaria fails to do so within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
If the case reaches the Luxembourg-based Court, the EC Commission may seek interim measures or the removal of offending projects.
Under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, any project that may have a significant negative impact on sites that are part of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas should undergo a prior assessment before work begins.
At the same time, the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive aims to ensure that any project likely to have a significant impact on the environment is adequately assessed before being approved.
The EC notes that Bulgaria fails to comply with EU legislation in the sphere and has already authorized the implementation of a number of projects in the Kaliakra area, a globally important stopping-off point for tens of thousands of migratory birds, without appropriate environmental impact assessment and persists with the corrupt practice.
As a result, Bulgaria is left with insufficient territories designated as Special Protection Areas (SPA) under the Birds Directive in the Kaliakra region.
The EC voices concerns that thousands of wind turbines and some 500 other projects have been authorised in the area without adequate assessments of their effect on Kaliakra's unique habitats and species, and on the thousands of birds and bats that fly over the site each year on their way to and from Africa.
According to the EC, Bulgaria has failed to take account of the cumulative effect of the projects, which is also a requirement under the Birds, Habitats and Environmental Impact Assessment Directives.
In December 2008 and in September 2011, the EC sent reasoned opinions to Bulgaria, voicing concern over the poor application of the relevant EU Directives.
While Bulgaria has been in regular contact with the Commission and has supplied information to allow further analysis, it remains in breach of the three Directives, the EC reminds.
Bulgaria now has two months to respond.
Approached by journalists of Capital daily, Bulgaria's Ministry of Environment and Water said that they had not received the official EC document yet and refused comment on the matter.
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