Bulgaria reportedly poised to give go ahead to controversial Bansko ski resort expansion

Bulgaria reportedly poised to give go ahead to controversial Bansko ski resort expansion
By bne IntelliNews November 21, 2017

Bulgaria’s government will allow the construction of a second ski lift in the Bansko ski resort, but will demand a double concession fee in exchange, Mediapool reported on November 20.

The construction of a second gondola lift in Bansko has been at the centre of a lengthy dispute between property owners in the resort and environmentalists who claim that it would affect protected areas.

Although the government plans to agree to the construction, it has pledged to seek a public discussion and assessment of its impact on the environment, Mediapool quoted Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov as saying during a working meeting with representatives of the resort.

According to Environment Minister Neno Dimov, the Bulgarian government will soon initiate procedures to unfreeze plan for changes to the concession deal with Yulen, a company owned by Bulgarian oligarch Tseko Minev.

The deal on the expansion of Bansko ski zone was shelved in 2015 by the second government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov when the then government concluded that the agreement did not comply with Bulgarian legislation and that required checks had not been carried out.

The agreement allowing Yulen to expand the ski resort has sparked protests from environmental groups, which have claimed for the last decade that development of the Bansko ski resort has caused significant damage to the Pirin National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site.

As early as 2006, in the early days of Bulgaria’s property boom, the Save Pirin Coalition claimed that deforestation of the Pririn mountains because of the intense construction work had resulted in a sharp increase in flooding. Five years later, hundreds of people demonstrated against legislative changes allowing illegal construction to be legitimised. Environmentalists also say that the Bansko ski zone has taken over far more land within the national park than authorised, and that this has been overlooked by successive governments.

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