Environment Ministry Makes Efforts to Contract Entire Available Funding under OP Environment by mid-2012
Of a total of 124 agglomerations of over 10,000 population, waste treatment plants have been built in 60
By mid-2012, the entire available funding of 2.5 billion leva under the EU Operational Programme Environment will be contracted, Environment and Waters Minister Nona Karadjova Tuesday told a news conference entitled "Strategic Infrastructure, Bulgaria 2011. Priorities 2020". Of a total of 124 agglomerations of over 10,000 population, waste treatment plants have been built in 60. Two-thirds need to be rehabilitated and fitted with a biological step, said the Minister.
In Karadjova's words, nine new waste treatment plants have been put into operation in the past year, with another eight to become operational by the end of 2011.
Projects contracted by the year's end are expected to add up to 1 billion leva, said the Minister. Of a total of 54 regional landfills, 30 have been built. Four are being constructed, and another four are to be approved in May. Construction of all regional landfills will have begun by the end of 2011.
By 2020, 50 per cent of domestic waste and 70 per cent of construction waste will be recycled. Carsten Rasmussen of the Bulgaria department with the EC Directorate-General for Regional Policy voiced doubt that Bulgaria would absorb all the available funding for environment, especially in the water sector.
In his words, the sector is experiencing problems with EU funds absorption and the Environment Ministry should step up efforts to strengthen the capacity of municipalities. The greatest risk is still considered the award by municipalities of large procurement tenders. The Environment and Transport sectors are still below the average rate of EU funds absorption, noted Rasmussen. He urged the Environment Ministry and the Regional Development Ministry to improve their cooperation in the water sector to create secure environment for investors.
Rasmussen voiced confidence that the construction of Sofia's waste treatment plant will begin in the next 12 months, adding that the project has been delayed after hitting serious snags. The EC official said that the his work has become much easier over the past few years, with greater efforts by the government to improve infrastructure quality. He voiced optimism that the number of contracted projects under the OP Environment will increase.