Meeting with Environment Minister Neno Dimov and the Mayor of Bansko on Thursday, officials of Ulen, the company running the Bansko skiing zone, presented a conceptual design for a second gondola in the skiing zone, said the Environment Ministry.
The project will arguably reduce the long wait at the resort's only gondola. The controversial project was made public through the news media several days ago.
Ulen told the Minister that they are about to hire experts to determine the route for the future gondola and prepare a reasoned proposal.
Next, they will ask the Bansko Mayor to start a procedure for preparing a detailed development plan to be put to an environmental impact assessment.
The Ulen officials assured the Environment Minister that all procedures required by the environmental legislation, will be strictly observed.
The announcement about the meeting of the Ulen representatives with the Minister came as environmentalists are preparing for another day of protests against changes in the management plan for Pirin and plans to broaden the Bansko skiing zone into the National Park. Protests are planned in several cities, including Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Rousse, Stara Zagora and Veliko Turnovo.
At the same time local people and pro-development activists will be holding a demonstration near Simitli on the road linking Sofia with the Greek border. They support the plans for expansion of the skiing zone and for more construction in the buffer zone which now separates the urban areas and the National Park.
The environmentalists earned the support of five extra-parliamentary parties Thursday: Yes, Bulgaria!, Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, the Greens, the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and DEOS, who said that the changes in the management plan for the Pirin National Park will not speed up the construction of a new gondola but will surely prompt a construction boom in Bansko and Pirin, building of new ski runs and destruction of primeval forests. They also said that while they are not against a second gondola, they are "against lawlessness and an oligarchic monopolism, which destroys tourism rather than support it". 'We call for sustainable development in mountain areas, protection of nature and a wise national strategy for development of winter sports. We will not allow Bulgarian mountains to become a new Sunny Beach," the five parties say referring to a Black Sea resort which has become an emblem of overdevelopment.