Expert Council of Bulgarian Environment Ministry OKs New Ski Facilities near Bansko
The High Expert Ecological Council of Bulgaria's Ministry of Environment and Water has approved a proposal for expanding the Bansko ski zone with new facilities.
In order for new facilities to be built, there will have to be a new site development plan which has passed an environmental impact assessment (EIA), according to reports of offnews.bg
In order for this to happen, the site development plan for the Pirin National Park will be amended and the ban for the construction of new ski facilities in the tourist zone (Spanning around 2.5% of the territory of the park) will be lifted.
The High Expert Ecological Council of Bulgaria's Ministry of Environment and Water did not approve the proposal of the Bansko Municipality in its entirety.
The Bansko municipality initially demanded the right to build new facilities in several other zones in the Pirin National Park making up around 2/3 of its territory, but the idea was rejected, meaning that plans for two more ski zones in the Park, at Dobrinishte and Razlog (the so-called Mega Pirin project) are cancelled.
The final decision of the Expert Council of the Environment Ministry was announced by Deputy Environment Minister Evdokia Maneva after the end of the session.
"We adopted a balanced decision," Maneva commented, as cited by dnevnik.bg, adding that only part of the demands of the Bansko Municipality had been given the green light.
Maneva argued that the tourist zone accounted for 2.5% of the area of the Pirin National Park and the sports facilities took up 0.2% of its territory.
She suggested that it was important to specify the figures to dispel claims of eco activists saying that the decision concerned 80% of the territory of the Pirin Mountain.
Maneva told journalists that the proposal of the Expert Council created a theoretical possibility for building a new gondola lift in the so-called buffer zone near Bansko.
She emphasized that the construction of new facilities could only happen on the basis of an approved site development plan of the zone which had to be proposed by the Bansko Municipality and had to pass an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and a compatibility assessment.
Maneva also noted that the assessment procedures were a mandatory condition for the proposal which the Exert Council forwarded to the Environment Ministry.
She explained that the Environment Ministry could take into account the stance of the consultative body but it would present a proposal of its own to the Council of Ministers.
While the Expert Council was discussing and voting the proposal, around 200 residents of Bansko, Dobrinishte, and Sapareva Banya staged a protest to demand the development of ski tourism in the region.
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