Protest Against Forestry Act Veto Blocks Main Road Link with Greece

Protest Against Forestry Act Veto Blocks Main Road Link with Greece

About 300 people blocked for ten minutes on Monday the Greece-bound Struma highway in protest against the government's decision to suspend amendments to the Forestry Act facilitating investment projects in mountain areas.

The protestors called on the government not to bow to pressure from environmentalists as, they claim, a suspension of the amendments would doom the residents of mountain areas to unemployment and poverty, the state-run Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on Monday.

Last week reacting to the adoption of the controversial amendments, hundreds of young people blocked a key intersection in downtown Sofia on several consecutive evenings, president Rosen Plevneliev imposed a veto on the act and prime minister Boiko Borisov said the amendments will not be promulgated in the State Gazette before full consensus is reached on the issue.

Meeting on Monday, the government and environmentalists failed to reach an agreement on the issue of the construction of ski runs and ski tows, BNT reported.

The amendments allow construction of ski runs, ski tows and other facilities on forestry stock areas without a change in the designated purpose of the area, thus, according to  environmentalists, making it possible for these areas to appear as forests only on paper. These areas will be auctioned at tenders and the private investors will pay just for the right to build, granted for a period of up to 30 years, which practically lifts the existing moratorium on disposition transactions involving forestry stock areas.

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