The Rhodopes - ski resort Super Perelik

The Rhodopes - ski resort Super Perelik

On 8 June 2007 the Municipal Expert Council of the Municipality of Smolyan authorized the Modification of the General Spatial Plan (GSP) of the “Perelik sports and tourist center” by Decree No.624/08.06.2007 without carrying out any Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and following Article 6 procedures. This is in violation of Articles 3(2) and 4(1) of the SEA Directive (2001/42/EEC) and Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) concerning projects in the “Rodopi-Zapadni” pSCI (BG0001030) and “Trigrad Mursalitsa” SPA (BG0002113) which are on the Buglarian Natura 2000 sites list.

The mountain of Perelik has also been subject to the corrupt practice of the so called "forest swaps". Between 2005 and 2008 the state has "presented" more than 1 000 ha of forests to the investors (the Municipality and a the private company STC Perelik) at a mean price of 1 Euro/m2. This implies violation of the European treaty in the means of "illegal state aid" and tremendous profits on the real estate marker for the investor company.

The initial project of the General Spatial Plan of the “Perelik sports and tourist center” (with an area of 2 191 ha) was authorized by the Municipality of Smolyan in 2001 and an EIA for it was completed. It was this particular project that the NGOs took into account when developing the boundaries of the relevant Natura 2000 sites.

On the 8th of June 2007, the Municipal Expert Council of the Municipality of Smolyan authorized the Modification of the General Spatial Plan of the “Perelik sports and tourist center” (13 705.4 ha in total) by a Decree No.624/08.06.2007 . The date of initiation ot the SEA procedure in the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and waters is 2.07.2007. This Modification, assessed as considerable, adds to the new Spatial Plan mainly areas (more than 10 000 ha) at the cost of the “Rodopi-Zapadni” pSCI (7928 ha or 3% of the area of the pSCI!) and “Trigrad Mursalitsa” SPA (10 332 ha or 19 % of the area of the SPA!). For clarity, this additional area of ca. 10 000 ha is actually the area of the modified GSP which overlaps with the territory of the “Trigrad Mursalitsa” SPA.

The modification of the GSP was authorized without any SEA or fulfillment of Article 6 procedures according to a letter of the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters (RIEW) Smolyan.

According to Art. 3 (2) of Directive 2001/42/EEC, such GSPs are subject to obligatory SEA and Appropriate assesments under Article 6 (3) of the Directive 92/43/EEC.

Up to date, the competent authorities, namely the Minister of Environment and Waters and the District Governor of Smolyan, did not take any steps to cancel the Decision of the Municipal Expert Council of the Municipality of Smolyan and to start an infringement procedure.

The main problem:

This case is an example of the very common practice in Bulgaria when:

1. The local authorities authorize a project or a plan without any actual SEA, EIA or Article 6 assessments (e.g. Panichishte ski resort, Kulinoto ski and golf resort, Kara Dere seaside reosrt, Riverside village in Irakli, Kartala ski resort, Perelik ski and golf resort etc.).

2. The competent authorities (e.g. the MoEW, the District Governor etc.) undertake no action to stop the illegal act. The Bulgarian government tolerates this practice since the building business (not the tourism!!!) is the main motor of the Bulgarian economy.

3. On the contrary, the competent authorities in the name of the MoEW and the RIEW, if alerted at all, request the investor to make a SEA, EIA or Article 6 Assessment despite the fact that the project/plan is already authorized and no subsequent changes in the project/plan are possible anymore!

4. The 1 000 ha of illegal forest swaps on price levels of 1 Euro/m2 (thus "illegal state aid" acc. to Art. 87 of the European Treaty) include also forest parcels along the predesigned trajectories of future ski runs, lifts and roads. This makes any subsequent Environmental assessments absolute nonsense.

Expected environmental impacts concerning the Natura 2000 sites “Rodopi-Zapadni” pSCI (BG0001030) with an area of 271 909 ha and “Trigrad Mursalitsa” SPA (BG0002113) with an area of 55 327 ha.

The main activities which are planned in the GSP of the ski and golf complex are:

1. Cutting forests and transforming the landscape by bulldozers for the construction of ski infrastructure, roads, hotels and golf complexes.

2. Construction of ski and golf infrastructure, roads, water reservoirs and hotel complexes.