Sandov’s ministry allowed the completion of the Flag of Peace resort in a protected area.
With a letter signed by Deputy Minister Toma Belev, the Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW) allowed construction and completion of the Flag of Peace resort located on Arkutino beach, reports the website ekonovini.bg.
The resort is located in Beglik Tash – Ropotamo protected area. This is also where the buffer zone of Ropotamo Reserve passes. The sea daffodil, a protected species, is distributed in the area and blossoms in July. The sand dunes in Arkutino are also under protection.
The property lies within the margins of a zone of the Natura network designated for the protection of wild birds and habitats. The birds nesting in the area include swifts, common kestrels, swallows, little owls and many others. All of them are protected under international and European conventions, agreements and directives.
In letter No. 48-00-902 of 7 February 2022 to Burgas Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water Deputy Minister Belev does not object to the “reconstruction and completion of the Flag of Peace residential group, currently put on hold”. The letter informs that the construction of new buildings is prohibited, but it does not contain any explicit statements prohibiting the development of this unique natural landscape.
In accordance with the letter of the Ministry of Environment, stating that there are no objections to the construction of Flag of Peace, on 21 February 2022 Sozopol Municipality issued Building Permit No. 28 to Arkutino AD for “reconstruction and completion /adaptation of a site put on hold/ of 6 buildings with a total usable floor area of 13 815 m2.”
The concrete frames of the unfinished resort have been sitting in the protected zone since 1984. The permission for the construction of the Flag of Peace resort in memory of Lyudmila Zhivkova was given back then. The resort occupies 66.8 Ha of forest and dunes in Ropotamo Reserve.
For 40 years the salty wind has been eroding the buildings. The rough construction is most likely compromised and will need to be demolished. The permission issued by the chief architect of Sozopol Municipality is for “reconstruction and completion.” It is clear that it also includes plans for “elimination and finalization of constructive elements.” Issued in this manner, the permit allows the investor Arkutino AD to demolish the existing concrete frames and to construct six new and outbuildings in their place. This, in effect, is new construction which is prohibited in all protected zones and reserves, no matter what the Ministry of Environment and Waters says.
MEW’s letter does not consider the fact that the flora and fauna on this property have been developing in the course of 40 years and there are many new habitats which would be impacted. The document does not say what would happen to these.
The project also has a very serious problem: where and how will wastewaters be disposed of, as there is a discrepancy between the construction permit and the respective letter of MEW. According to the letter the wastewater is to be discharged at a treatment plant owned by Dyuni Resort. The construction permit provides another alternative. This discrepancy will probably lead to the realization of the easier option: discharging wastewaters through pipes directly into the sea, which will inevitably pollute the bay of Arkutino and the mouth of Ropotamo.
The history the positive opinion issued by MEW regarding the construction of the Flag of Peace resort in Arkutino holds a curious fact. On 2 November 2021 the investor Arkutino AD wrote a letter to the Bulgarian Park Association (BPA) represented by the current Deputy Minister of Environment and Water, Toma Belev. Arkutino AD asked the opinion of BPA regarding the “modernization and completion of existing building stock without new construction.”
In their reply BPA wrote that they were impressed by Arkutino AD’s “unique business organization” and considered that “if in Bulgaria there is an opportunity for high-class sea tourism, then the place would be exactly in the area around the borders of the municipalities of Primorsko and Sozopol.”
What is interesting about this correspondence? First, why does the investor write to the Bulgarian Park Association? There are no nature parks in Ropotamo protected zone, there is a reserve. Furthermore, a private NGO such as BPA is not competent to dispose of public state property. Also, BPA’s opinion has no legal value. The only explanation is that the correspondence was to serve as an announcement.
There is another disturbing fact revealing the relationships between the investor and BPA. MEW’s letter approving the project for completion of the Flag of Peace Resort is signed not by the minister Borislav Sandov, but only by his deputy, Toma Belev who resigned as chair of the Bulgarian Park Association a month ago. In this case the double standard is evident: some investors are enemies, while other are good friends.
It remains to be seen what will happen to the Arkutino beach. One thing is certain: another wild space at the Bulgarian seaside will be destroyed.