The Transport program is stuck due to the lack of evaluation of the alternatives for the Struma highway

Climate / Ecology
3E news
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A number of operational programs and infrastructure projects will not be able to start due to the delay of Environmental Impact Assessments or environmental assessments, announced today at a press conference on criminal proceedings in the environment sector, Minister of Environment and Water Borislav Sandov.

It turns out that one of the endangered programs could be the Operational Program "Transport Connectivity". The program will cycle due to problems with environmental assessment. The Ministry of Environment and Water issued the assessment in March 2021, and the Ministry of Regional Development has not appealed, Minister Sandov commented today after the press conference. From the issued statement of the Ministry of Ecology, part of which 3eNews has in electronic form, it is clear that in order to start the program, certain conditions in the environmental assessment must be met.

According to the environmental assessment, an additional assessment should be assigned to the alternatives and possibilities for construction of the two routes of Lot 3.2 of the Struma Motorway outside the gorge, including the specific conservation objectives and measures for protected areas. However, this has not yet happened.

Also, the environmental assessment insists on assigning an additional assessment for the passage of the Gabrovo Bypass, including a tunnel under Shipka Peak through the territory of Bulgarka Nature Park.

If the regional ministry does not evaluate the alternative routes, there is a danger that the program will not start, according to Minister Sandov. Some of the biggest remarks of the EC are on the environmental assessment of the Rural Development Program, where one of the main open issues is related to pastoralism in national parks.

All these topics will be highlighted in the talks during the visit of a delegation of the European Commission for Dealing with Criminal Procedures on June 20-22, Sandov stressed.

The Minister of Regional Development Grozdan Karadzhov commented in the parliament a month ago that there is a real danger that the completion of the Struma Motorway will be postponed until 2030. This will happen if the state does not complete the construction through the Kresna Gorge by October, when the deadline expires. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is for this section.

The Struma Motorway is at such a critical moment in its development, in the part of the Kresna Gorge, that even if the Minister of Ecology and I do not hold hands, we will not go to Brussels together and say that we will build the Kresna Gorge according to the current version, but we will add a second lane on the slopes of Pirin outside the route in the gorge, there is no time for when, "he said. "There is no time to hang around and any new procedures and tricks with an environmental focus are just a postponement in order for the legally issued EIA to expire," Karadzhov said.

"If that happens, the project is over and we have to start over. It just won't come true. The knife rested on the bone. "Either we catch up and go to Brussels, or this section of the Kresna Gorge will remain the section of death and will be another indicator of how we are not coping with our roads," he explained a month ago.



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