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EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella: EC has not found breach of EU law in Pirin case but will keep a close eye on it

EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella: EC has not found breach of EU law in Pirin case but will keep a close eye on it

10 April 2018 | 16:23 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The European Commission has not found breaches of European legislation in the case of the Pirin national park but will keep a close eye on the issue, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella told a press conference for the presentation of results of the first day of the informal meeting of EU environment ministers, Focus News Agency reports. “The Commission does not participate in the plans for construction within such areas,” Commissioner Vella said, adding that this is responsibility of the member states.
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Minister Neno Dimov: There are hundreds of kilometers of ski slopes and ski lifts in European national parks

Minister Neno Dimov: There are hundreds of kilometers of ski slopes and ski lifts in European national parks

9 February 2018 | 17:41 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. An example of ski tourism is the famous Kitzbühel resort, which has 179 km of ski slopes and 46 lifts, Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov told FOCUS Radio.
274 lift facilities were built in the last two seasons in Europe, he said. “There are national parks with not one but many ski areas. For example, in the Mercantour National Park in France there are 9 ski resorts with a total of 640 km of ski slopes and 125 ski lifts. Or the Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria, with its 33 ski resorts, 837 km of ski slopes and 264 ski lifts,” the minister commented.
Romania is currently preparing a major project for the development of ski tourism, and Serbia and Slovenia are also developing their ski resorts, Dimov said. “Our neighbouring countries are doing their best to attract winter tourists and in Bulgaria there are organisations that are trying to prevent the country from developing into a ski destination,” Dimov said. In his words, this is contrary to the national interest, which, after all, is higher incomes for Bulgarians, developing economy and tourism, and finding a balance between economic development and environmental conservation.
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Minister Neno Dimov: As President of the Council of the EU, Bulgaria will seek a balance between economic development and environmental protection

Minister Neno Dimov: As President of the Council of the EU, Bulgaria will seek a balance between economic development and environmental protection

24 January 2018 | 15:21 | FOCUS News Agency
Brussels. Bulgaria is among Europe’s countries with richest biodiversity, including a place of emergence of new species. As such, we will seek a balance, actively and consistently, between economic development and environmental protection during our Presidency of the Council of the European Union, said Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov, who presented the Bulgarian Presidency priorities in the area of environment before the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in Brussels, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“Our programme focuses on the transition to the circular economy and resource efficiency, aiming to achieve sustainable growth and create favourable conditions for implementing eco-innovative solutions,” Dimov said.
“The improvement of air quality will also be among our focus areas. Air pollution is not only an environmental but also a social issue that poses many challenges in terms of managing and mitigating the impact of harmful pollutants. That is why we will concentrate our efforts on initiatives to promote the use of different mechanisms, including innovative solutions, to improve air quality,” said Niko Dimov.
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Environment Minister not worried by protests, says this is democracy

Environment Minister not worried by protests, says this is democracy

19 January 2018 | 15:17 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Environment Minister Neno Dimov said he is not worried by the protests against the changes to the management plan for the Pirin national park. He made the comment after the constituent meeting of an advisory council of scientists who will assist him in conducting the state policy on environmental management and protection, FOCUS News Agency reported. Asked if the protests worry him, Dimov said: “No, this is democracy. How can I be worried by democracy. On the contrary, I lived in other times when there could be no protest. That would worry me.”
Regarding the suggestion by mountaineer Boyan Petrov to amend the text of the Pirin management plan so that water catchment facilities could only be built for drinking and household purposes, Dimov said that the management plan cannot be so specific because it is a plan that sets regimes. According to the minister, such proposals should be directed at the municipal territorial plans or the detailed territorial plan for specific projects that is obligatory and subject to environmental assessment. “One is a plan for management that sets regimes and the other one is a specialised detailed territorial plan that sets the basis for construction and is subject to environmental assessment and compatibility evaluation,” the minister stressed.
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Minister Neno Dimov: We must seek balance between environmental protection and economic development

Minister Neno Dimov: We must seek balance between environmental protection and economic development

4 January 2018 | 17:00 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. We must seek balance between environmental protection and economic development, Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov told Focus Radio’s environmental show.
As key weaknesses in the field of environment, Minister Dimov pointed out two things. To either do nothing for the sake of protecting the environment, or to do anything regardless of how it affects nature. “And these two extremes must be brought together in a balanced centre. This is actually what I was trying to achieve from the very beginning. We must have some symbiosis between these two trends, if we want to improve the standard of our living as they both determine the quality of life,” said the minister.
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Georgi Ikonomov, Bansko Mayor: Our greatest success in 2017 was the government decision to change the management plan for Pirin

Georgi Ikonomov, Bansko Mayor: Our greatest success in 2017 was the government decision to change the management plan for Pirin

4 January 2018 | 15:29 | FOCUS News Agency
Bansko. Our greatest success in 2017 was the government’s decision in the last days of the year to change the management plan for the national park of Pirin, Bansko Mayor Georgi Ikonomov told FOCUS Radio - Pirin. He said the long-awaited change would allow for the development of the local ski area over the next years. “This is also the first step by which the government says that winter tourism is a priority for the whole of Bulgaria,” he added. Another important achievement for the municipality in 2017 was the completion of a water treatment project.
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Minister Neno Dimov: I will meet later today with investors on second lift at Bansko

Minister Neno Dimov: I will meet later today with investors on second lift at Bansko

4 January 2018 | 13:59 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Minister of Environment Neno Dimov has invited investors to a meeting later today, he told reporters in connection with potential investments in a second lift at Bansko, FOCUS News Agency reported. Regarding the planned protests in 10 cities against the changes to the management plan for the Pirin Mountain and a rally on the E79 road in support of the changes, Minister Dimov said: “I understand that protests will be held this evening both on E79 and in Sofia. Protests are a normal form and part of democracy.”
Asked about possible solutions on natural gas production in General Toshevo, he stressed that health and people's lives were priority for the government, and a solution would be sought in this direction. All information will be considered as part of the environmental assessment of the proposed gas project, he added.
At a recent referendum in General Toshevo, the vast majority of voters rejected any gas production in the area.
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Apostol Apostolov, Simitli Mayor: Everyone living and working in Pirin urgently needs a second cabin lift at Bansko

Apostol Apostolov, Simitli Mayor: Everyone living and working in Pirin urgently needs a second cabin lift at Bansko

4 January 2018 | 12:54 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The need for a second cabin lift at Bansko is pressing for everyone living and working in Pirin, Simitli Mayor Apostol Apostolov told FOCUS Radio this morning regarding today’s rally by people from Bansko and Simitli in support of the government’s decision to change the management plan for the national park of Pirin. The decision, which allows for the construction of a second cabin lift near Bansko, has nothing to do with the addition of new hotels or beds, it concerns the use of the existing accommodation capacity for which the ski slopes and lifts are insufficient now, Apostolov said.
“We are the people born here. We are the people who really live in the mountain and make their living in the mountain, unlike those who protest on the yellow pavers (Sofia) and have never stepped in the mountain. In contrast, we are the people who want economic development in the region. Of course, we firmly support the compliance with all environmental norms and the observing of all parameters in the construction of these facilities so that we could preserve the mountain. If we do not preserve the beautiful Pirin Mountain, there would hardly be any tourists coming to visit us,” the mayor said. He hopes that the government’s decision will be implemented despite the protests against it.
Protests have been called in 10 Bulgarian cities for 6.30 pm today by organisations which say the decision to modify the management plan is illegal and allows for construction in the national park.
At the same time, the Future for Bansko association representing local people will block the E79 road. It fears a potential reversal of the government’s decision.
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Radostina Tsenova, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation: Rally in support of Pirin will take place in Burgas

Radostina Tsenova, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation: Rally in support of Pirin will take place in Burgas

3 January 2018 | 16:28 | FOCUS News Agency
Burgas. A peaceful rally in support of Pirin will be held in Burgas at 6.30 pm tomorrow, Radostina Tsenova from the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation told FOCUS Radio - Burgas. They demand a revision of the government decision from December 28, 2017 about a modification of the management plan for Pirin, which clears the way for construction on 48% of the national park’s territory. They also want the environment minister to resign. “An environment minister cannot say that the law on protected areas and the law on biodiversity are restrictive and should be reviewed. His main task is to protect the nature of Bulgaria,” Tsenova said.
There will be similar protests in several cities across the country tomorrow.
At the same time, people from the Bansko municipality will block the E79 road to support the government decision and stand up against “the green mafia”, Dimitar Ruskov from the Future for Bansko association told FOCUS Radio - Pirin. Local people fear that the environmentalist protests may lead to a reversal of the decision. The association supports the construction of a second cabin lift at Bansko as part of the development of the local ski area.
Minister Neno Dimov said that the modification allows for the construction of sport facilities within the sport area at Bansko. This area represents 2% of the national park's territory, he noted.
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PM Boyko Borisov: Government supports second lift at Bansko, but nothing in Pirin will be done without the respective procedures by environmental law

PM Boyko Borisov: Government supports second lift at Bansko, but nothing in Pirin will be done without the respective procedures by environmental law

28 December 2017 | 16:39 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. With the decisions taken today, the government is solving two problems -- about the construction of a new lift at Bansko and the conservation of Pirin’s nature. Thus Prime Minister Boyko Borisov summarised the discussion on the approved changes to the management plan for the National Park Pirin and the decision obliging the Environment Minister to swiftly implement legal procedures for administrative plans and investment projects, if any, according to the shorthand of the government meeting.
According to Borisov, today’s decision finalises the long-lasting procedure for the modification of the management plan for Pirin. He reminded that any investment project in the mountain is subject to environmental assessment, compatibility assessment and all procedures by law. The prime minister expressed hope that all parties will unite around the protection of Pirin’s nature and the second lift at Bansko.
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Deputy PM Krasimir Karakachanov: Decisions on Bansko allow further economic development of Southwestern Bulgaria

Deputy PM Krasimir Karakachanov: Decisions on Bansko allow further economic development of Southwestern Bulgaria

28 December 2017 | 15:35 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The decisions today allow for additional economic development of Southwestern Bulgaria, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov said after a government meeting, quoted by FOCUS News Agency. The construction of the second cabin lift at Bansko is a matter of economic development, he said. He added that an overall vision for the development of mountain tourism in Bulgaria would benefit people who love mountain and sports and would secure livelihood, development and a normal standard of living for those who live in those regions. According to him, today’s decision is a step towards resolving a long-lasting problem in Bansko.
Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov also supported the decisions and thanked Prime Minister Boyko Borisov for the consideration of the issue at today’s government meeting. “I do not want to comment on what's past. The decisions taken today are very responsible and important. They open a new page in the development of mountain tourism,” he said.
Tens of citizens protested earlier today in front of the government headquarters in Sofia against the construction of a second lift at Bansko. At the same time, people from Bansko and nearby areas gathered on the E79 road near Simitli in support of the second lift.
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Minister Neno Dimov: If there are investors interested in constructing a second lift in Bansko, we will implement all the necessary environmental measures

Minister Neno Dimov: If there are investors interested in constructing a second lift in Bansko, we will implement all the necessary environmental measures

28 December 2017 | 13:58 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Council of Ministers has decided today that if there are investors interested in constructing a second gondola lift in Bansko ski area, all environmental impact assessment procedures will be swiftly implemented to ensure that the lift will be built in a short time, Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov said after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, FOCUS News Agency reports.
"A public discussion is also part of the necesary procedures. All stakeholders will be able to voice their opinion. Building a second lift in Bansko is met with widespread public approval. I do not expect major obstacles,” Nenov said.
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Minister Neno Dimov: I don’t think Bansko’s second ski lift can shake the ruling coalition

Minister Neno Dimov: I don’t think Bansko’s second ski lift can shake the ruling coalition

15 December 2017 | 16:12 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. I don’t think Bansko’s second ski lift can shake the ruling coalition, Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov told journalists in the parliament, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“Moreover, I see strong consensus on Bansko’s second lift. My decision to withdraw the [proposed changes] to the concession contract [for the ski area in Bansko] was motivated by the need for finding balance between the economic part of the concession contract and the environmental part in the management plan of Pirin National Park,” Dimov commented. According to him, the deadline for public discussion on the management plan is 22 December. “Depending on the amount of comments and suggestions given and our capacity to review them, we will bring in the concession contract and the management plan at the first possible session.
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Deputy PM Tomislav Donchev: No tension in ruling coalition, it is normal to have disagreements at times

Deputy PM Tomislav Donchev: No tension in ruling coalition, it is normal to have disagreements at times

15 December 2017 | 14:27 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. There is no tension in the government coalition. There is friction and disagreements sometimes, which is quite normal, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev told reporters after recent statements by Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov about the second lift in Bansko. Donchev said that Simeonov had the right to own opinion, different from that of his colleagues in the government. “If the question is whether this undermines the foundations of the coalition, the answer is no,” he stated, quoted by FOCUS News Agency. He declined to comment on whether Simeonov had expressed his personal opinion or that of the United Patriots.
On December 12, Environment Minister Neno Dimov announced his decision to withdraw proposed changes to the concession contract for the ski area in Bansko. Two days later Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov said that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was not cooperating for the construction of a second lift for the ski area and sabotaged Simeonov’s proposal for a change to the concession.
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