On the days of the local elections, the Green Laws Initiative sent a signal to the Ministers of the Environment and Regional Development requesting urgent measures against the latest municipal schemes for large-scale and chaotic construction in violation of Bulgarian laws. We are talking about a recently revealed mass practice in municipalities such as Blagoevgrad, Maritsa, Dobrich, Burgas and others to push through numerous amendments to their general development plans (GDP) “piecemeal” for individual properties of 3-4 decares each and on the initiative of individual private investors, with which the nature and agricultural lands outside the populated areas are chaotically built up.
The signal is based on a thorough analysis of more than 600 procedures for amending the EMP in 16 RIWS (see the register of the MOEW), from which it is clear that in 99% of cases the amendments to the EMP are approved by the RIEW without a mandatory environmental assessment and without an assessment of the cumulative effect in violation of Art. 85 of the Environmental Protection Agency and the European Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment. The very scheme of illegally pushing through amendments to the OMP is proven in the report through dozens of examples of decisions of the RIEW and the Ministry of the Environment for identical situations, which, however, completely contradict each other, or are based on false or purely formal general motives, which is in violation of the law. The example of the completely contradictory ones is particularly paradoxical – the first decision of the Shumen RISW (No. ШУ-28-ЕО/2022) not to carry out a mandatory EO and the subsequent decision of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (No. ОВОС-57/16.01.2023) to mandatory performance of an EIA concerning the same investment project for a wind farm of “VP Nikola Kozlevo” EOOD to the village of Pet Mogili.
Unfortunately, the analysis shows that the illegal practice in question is growing exponentially and is beginning to be transferred to other municipalities and RISW. Currently, about 200 out of all over 600 procedures for amending the PMU are only in 4-5 municipalities and in 4-5 eco-inspections such as RIOSB Blagoevgrad, Varna, Burgas, Sofia, Plovdiv, but they are becoming more and more widespread in RIOSP Pazardzhik, Shumen, Stara Zagora and Haskovo. Against the scheme, there are already clearly expressed opinions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and of individual directors of RISW (see decision of RISW Veliko Tarnovo dated 06.03.2023 and decision of RISW Ruse dated 12.04.2023) from the spring of 2023, according to which the mass pushing through partial amendments to the MOU for individual private projects is in violation of Art. 134, para. from ZUT and in opposition to the balanced approach for sustainable and harmonious development of municipalities and their territories. An incidental decision from 21.06.2021 of the temporary director of RIOSV Varna, where in principle the vicious practice is widespread, is also impressive, in which, however, it is revealed in an unprecedented way that “the ascertained dispersed fragmentation of a strategic document such as the UMP adopted for a period of 20 years, with the allowed amendment of the UMP piecemeal without a comprehensive concept of structural zoning renders meaningless the ecological assessment for the approval of the UMP of the Municipality of Dobrich in 2017, as with the amendment of the UMP and with the withdrawal of lands from the agricultural fund, a balance between urbanization and the environment was not sought in violation of the precautionary principle“.
We at Green Laws believe that these schemes for mass amendment of the MOU are de facto identical to the well-known vicious practices of “piecemeal” construction through the approval by the municipalities and RIWS of single PUPs in municipalities without an approved PUP. This is still the case in more than 80 municipalities out of a total of 265 throughout Bulgaria, such as Tsarevo, Nessebar, Shabla, Samokov and others, where the development of valuable natural areas leads to daily scandals. The reason for the signal and the analysis itself is the request submitted by the Municipality of Blagoevgrad for an amendment to the municipality’s OMP for a phased expansion “piecemeal” of the Kartala Ski Center, affecting protected centuries-old coniferous forests in the city’s watershed, on the border with the Rila National Park “.
The problem with the implementation of these schemes for mass modification of the MOU “piecemeal”, as well as for the chaotic development through single MOUs in municipalities without MOUs, is not only the destruction of nature and not only corruption in the municipalities and RISW, but also the creation of extreme inequality among municipalities, cities, investors and landowners. Some follow the law and some don’t. Some are subject to heavy procedures for a complete amendment of the PMO and a mandatory environmental assessment, while others are not. And while the pressure to complete the OMP in the 80 municipalities without an OMP can only come from the National Assembly, the elimination of the scheme with the mass amendment of the OMP “piecemeal” is entirely within the powers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and above all of the RISW and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which are mainly challenged by the Green Laws Initiative.
Author of the photograph: Borislav Borisov, Facebook group “Don’t let Sinemorets turn into Sunny Beach”