Legal action against Bulgaria over nature protection laws
European Commission opens legal procedure for insufficient protection of Black Sea coast
On 27 November 2008 the European Commission took a strong stance by officially opening a legal infringement procedure against Bulgaria for failing to implement the EU Birds Directive. The Bulgarian government has recently agreed to a very large number of developments that are likely to do significant harm to the unique Kaliakra Important Bird Area (IBA) site on the Black Sea coast, which until recently was pristine coastal steppe land.
Currently, more than 450 individual development projects are constructed or proposed on the Kaliakra site, among them tourist complexes, golf courses and more than 200 wind turbines. The projects occupy nearly 30% of Kaliakra’s land territory, which represents an area of 25 square kilometres.
“What we see happening at Kaliakra has nothing to do with strategic, responsible planning” —Konstantin Kreiser, EU Policy Manager at the BirdLife European Division
BirdLife International and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB/BirdLife in Bulgaria) welcome the move by the European Commission and hope Bulgaria will now take the necessary steps to save Kaliakra – to avoid a European Court case and ultimately a heavy penalty.
Konstantin Kreiser, EU Policy Manager at the BirdLife European Division comments: “BirdLife is in favour of sustainable tourism – and we strongly support the development of wind energy, but what we see happening at Kaliakra has nothing to do with strategic, responsible planning. Investors and authorities should have learned by now that sound assessments of environmental impacts and checking for alternative solutions is the best guarantee for successful investments. A European Court case can bring huge delays and costs".
“We are very concerned about the ongoing uncontrolled destruction of unique natural sites along the Black Sea coast” —Irina Mateeva, EU Policy Officer of BSPB (BirdLife in Bulgaria)
The Kaliakra site is a very important place for many migratory birds breeding in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe: more than two hundred thousand storks, cranes and raptors pass this site every autumn and spring on their way to and from the Middle East and Africa. Some of these birds are globally threatened like Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Saker Falcon Falco cherrug and Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca. Thousands of geese, including the globally endangered Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis spend the winter in the area. These birds would be put at a high risk by the foreseen developments, because most of their foraging or resting places would be lost. At the same time large parts of the important, Europe wide protected, Black Sea coast steppe habitat, would be lost if the mentioned projects would be realised.
Irina Mateeva, EU Policy Officer of BSPB (BirdLife in Bulgaria) explains: ”We are very concerned about the ongoing uncontrolled destruction of unique natural sites along the Black Sea coast and the fact that the Bulgarian government seems unwilling, or unable, to reconcile nature conservation and economic development. This should also be in the interest of anyone who cares about the well-being of people and the long-term future of Bulgaria as a tourism destination“.
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Credits: BirdLife in Europe