"The following additional prohibitions are introduced for the entire territory of Pirin National Park: construction of new, and extension of, existing ski runs and facilities".
This is what Toma Belev stated in the existing, but still active, management plan of Pirin National Park. In 2004, Belev participated in the development of the plan, personally developing the part ‘Management Structure, Regimes and Standards’. This becomes clear from the investigation by the Trud Newspaper. It is exactly this prohibition, imposed by him, which now suspends the development of winter tourism in the Bansko ski area.
The Truth and Facts:
In the other part of the plan - Zoning - which was developed by the former deputy in the Vitosha Nature Park Directorate, Dobromira Dimova, 895.1 hectares, which represents 2.2% of the territory of Pirin NP, are defined as a Tourism Area. Separately, there is an area of 218.8 hectares intended for the construction of buildings and facilities. This makes a total of 1,114 hectares. This area coincides with that specified in the Concession, both areas being determined on the basis of the 2001 Spatial Planning Master Plan of Bansko Municipality.
There is no discrepancy in the areas, including those developed by Toma Belev and his associates. Part of this area, amounting to 1,078 hectares, is determined by UNESCO for the development of winter tourism and skiing. According to the management plan of Pirin National Park, hiking, recreation, riding, cycling and SKIING are allowed in the Tourism Area. In 2013, Bansko Municipality proposed to abolish the prohibition of Toma Belev, but only for the Tourism Area and for the area of the buildings and facilities with a total area of 1,114 hectares.
The prohibition remains effective for the rest of Pirin NP, i. e. for 97.2% thereof. The main idea of the resort's local government was to allow the development of winter tourism in the places where this was permitted under the management plan and allowed by UNESCO. The then Minister of Environment and Water, Nona Karadzhova, convened, at the order of the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the Supreme Expert Environmental Council which approved the proposal of Bansko Municipality. Several days later, the Borisov 1 Cabinet resigned and the procedure for the plan amendment was not completed.
Consecutive governments also did not continue with this, explaining that a new management plan for Pirin NP was being developed, but at the end of 2017 this document was appealed against by the environmentalists and will not be adopted for at least three years. This is how the objective of the ecologists' appeal was achieved, namely to preserve the effect of the current plan containing the prohibition imposed by Mr. Belev. That is why Bansko Municipality asked the current Minister of Environment, Neno Dimov, to complete the work of his predecessor Mrs. Nona Karadzhova. According to the Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, the partial amendment of the plan will be considered at the meeting of the Council of Ministers on 28 December.
Once accepted, an opportunity to submit an investment plan with the exact routes and indicators for building a second cable car, will be provided. This will solve the problem with the huge queues in front of the current facility substation, which does not have the capacity to serve all those who wish to use the ski runs of the winter resort. These procedures will take about a year, and then another 12 months will be needed to build the cable carline and substation. Hopefully then, after two years, Bansko will have a second cable car.
The History and the Deception:
The Management Plan of Pirin National Park was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 6 August 2004 and was promulgated in the State Gazette on 20 August. Toma Belev, in his capacity as a director of Vitosha Nature Park Directorate, participated in the development of the current plan. Although in 2004 Belev was a civil servant, he was involved in the development of a private project, namely the management plan. It is extremely disturbing that this plan was developed with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and that two Swiss consultants were involved in its development - Pierre Galland and Peter Hustler. Then, under the influence of the two foreign experts and that of Toma Belev, the wording of the prohibition, which hinders the future development of the Bansko ski area, was included.
The above facts and the attached facsimiles of the plan show very clearly that the environmentalists have been lying to, and manipulating, everybody for more than 10 years. The lies are apparent mostly from the data on the size of the ski area, which is 1,114 hectares, rather than the 99 hectares claimed by the environmentalists. In this case, the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has been seriously misled, both about the size of the area and the opportunity to submit a project for the construction of a second cable car.
Although it is true that there are no plans for the construction of a second cable car in the partial amendment, there is an explanation for this. This is, that because, from the time that the Ministry of Environment and Water receives plans for such a project and the prohibition is still in force, the institution will answer the concessionaire with one sentence, "Your project is inadmissible because, according to the current management plan, the following additional prohibition applies to the entire territory of Pirin National Park - Construction of new, and extensions of existing ski runs and facilities".
Another trick that the environmentalists have up their sleeves, is to propose that specific wording, allowing the construction of the second cable car, be included in the amendment to the current plan. This, however, will contradict the plan and the environmentalists know very well, that then, they will have the opportunity to immediately appeal to the court regarding the proposed amendment. In this way, the environmentalists will prevent this amendment, as they have done with the new plan.
For now, they are able to deceive Prime Minister Borisov, who says that in the case of a project for construction of a second cable car, he will personally submit the amendment to the current plan. The problem, which has not been properly explained to the Prime Minister, is that the amendment was made before the project development and thus everything else is illegal. The question is, who is interested in the fact that the environmentalists' lies are being perceived as the truth by the authorities?