As can be seen from all the previous SAV links provided at the end of this news, we have been helping Serbian campaigners / environmentalists to be active with the campaign to save Stara Planina from environmental destruction for quite a while now. For them this campaign has been one of over four years. Please look at the individual links to witness how a beautiful area full of flora and fauna is being systematically destroyed – lost forever – there are many, many photographs; please take your time to witness the environmental destruction that is happening – approved and with the full approval of the Serbian government.
31/05/12 – The following report arrived at SAV within the last few days from Serbian environmental campaigners. We are reproducing the report in full, with no editorials apart from additional bolding and underling of text in areas which we consider are especially important.
We have given our information in the past (November 2011) regarding Stara Planina to both the EU Commission for the Environment – Commissioner Janez Potocnik, and also to the EU Commission for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy – Commissioner Stefan Fule.
Copies of both the response provided to us by the EU, and also that provided to the EU (Nicholas Hanley) by the Serbian Ministry of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning are provided below:
Below – the two page response to the EU by the Serbian Ministry of Environment, Mining
and Spatial Planning
Below – the two page response by the EU to SAV regarding the issue of Stara Planina:
We question the comments made by Assistant Minister Pokimica in his letter to the EU (first above), where it is declared:
“the Ministry of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning pays special attention to this sensitive and very important issue for our country, in particular since it affects both, the status of biodiversity and ecosystems and sustainable economic development of the entire country. Furthermore, the Government of Serbia reconfirmed the tremendous values of protected areas in recently adopted national strategy for Biodiversity Conservation and also in the new law of Nature protection which is harmonized with relevant EU legislation in this field”.
From the latest information provided to us from environmental campaigners (and reproduced below), it would appear that the policy of the Serbian government is to actually ensure that the Article 35 which has been used for environmental protection in the past, and which has now been modified twice in the last 3 years, has been amended specifically for the benefit of investors, at the personal request of companies which have already made illegal constructions previously on protected natural areas (Stara Planina, Kopaonik, Golija etc…), and in forbidden areas, breaching the laws on the Environment, Planning and Construction.
One could argue that this is hardly reconfirming the alleged government policy of “the tremendous values of protected areas”.
Please review the latest report from the Serbian environmentalists / campaigners and make your own views on the situation.
We have been to the EU about this issue before, and we will now be going back to the EU regarding this latest report from environmental campaigners in Serbia. Further, we will be in contact with Green MEPs making them fully aware of this current situation from a government which declares it is “harmonized with relevant EU legislation in this field”.
Maybe the actual reality is that Serbian ministries wish to change the laws and get illegal constructions under way PRIOR to becoming an EU member state – a case of doing the damage now before we are prevented from being allowed to do it in the future !
There is a lot associated with this current situation, and we will be providing further information very soon in associated posts on this site.
Here is a copy of some of the data we have been provided with by Serbian environmentalists.
This is an un-edited copy of the information provided.
As we have promised, if we receive new proof of the breach of laws, during the construction of the mega ski centre in the Park of Nature “Stara Planina”, such an information, we shall immediately forward to the EU, relevant Commission, Mr. Nicholas Hanley, Mr. Janez Potochnik and Mr. Barosso.
Since our Ministry for the Environment, Mr. Nebojsa Pokimica, assistant to the Minister Dulić sent a report to the EU Comission, to Mr. Hanley that there was no breach of laws during the construction of the mega ski centre on Stara Planina, we acquired different information and in our view, consider it necessary to inform the truth to the EU Commission and Mr. Hanley.
At the end of last year, we were in doubt and filed a complaint on the 21st of November, 2011, to the relevant government officials about the construction of the hotel on Jabučko Ravnište, construction of the gondola and ski lift with four seats to “Babin Zub” which are under construction and last winter in function. Relevant to this and for the construction of the partition on the Debesticka River on Stara Planina, and making the artificial accumulation for the needs of artificial snow, we filed a complaint (in Attachment).
On the 20th of December, 2011, we sent an urgent request to: Inspection of the Environment, Construction Inspection, and Urban Inspection of the Ministry for the Environment, Minining and Spatial Planning. In Belgrade, as officially they must act since these are their fields of responsibility.
On the 27th of December, 2011, we sent our request for the information of Public Importance, ie. copies of our log/notes on the behaviour of the Inspections.
Only on the 10th of April 2012 have we received only a partial answer on the issue brought by the Construction Inspection for the removal of the objects of the four-seat lift and gondola, as they have been constructed without lawful construction agreement.
For the hotel on Jabučko Ravnište, we have received no reply and we suspect that it has been constructed also unlawfully.
We question the legality of this hotel, as no evaluation of its impact on the environment has been analysed (as officially required ba law in Serbia) and further more, there was no infrastructure, electricity, water etc. necessary by Serbian Law (at least on paper), necessary for the construction of such an object in a protected area as is the Park of Nature “Stara Planina”.
The construction of this hotel and mega ski centre was paid out of the budget of Serbia, Public Company “Ski Resorts Serbia”, which with the money of Serbian tax payers together with the violation of laws, built and destroyed the officially protected natural site. Only the hotel on Jabucko Ravniste was constructed with an amount of about 35.000.000 EUR!!!!
We requested by official means on the 27th of December, 2012, copies of reports-agenda on the activities of the Construction Inspectors, but as we have not yet obtained them, we spent a lot of time waiting for this information.
Now we send part of the information received from the Ministry, proving that our suspicion on the legality of this construction is really illegal.
Due to the fact that we have not received the information, we filed a complaint to the Office for Information of Public Importance and we must now wait. This Office is burdened by many files including those from citizens, and we wait when the Office will act and force the Ministry to forward us this information.
As a supplement, we send the translated text forwarded by an official person from the Ministry of Environment, Mining and Spatial planning, Belgrade, responsible for handing out information of public concern, Radmila Padežanin, via email.
What we wish to point out to the EU Commission is the fact that the Law for the Protection of Nature from the year 2009, (Official Gazette RS No 36/2009) has been changed already twice, for the requirement of investors, on personal request or companies, which already made illegal constructions previously on protected natural areas (Stara Planina, Kopaonik, Golija etc…), forbidden areas, breaching the laws on the Environment, Planning and Construction etc.
For the first time, the Law on Nature Protection has been changed, amendments to the Law (Official Gazette RS No 88/2010) the Article 35 has been changed concerned with the regime of protection in the already protected areas. With this, various activities have now been allowed in the II and III degree of protected areas, previously not allowed by laws in 2009, Gazette 36/2009.
By these new by-laws, all illegal actions have been actually legalized and the investors have spare time to apply and legalaize their activities.
As a supplement we send the disputable Article 35 of the Law on Nature Protection (“Official Gazette RS” No 36/2009 and 88/2010) which by changes and amendments of the Law in 2010, severely degraded and reduced the protection in the already lawfully protected natural areas.
Formulations used to express all that is allowed but restricted, without specifying to whom and how, opens the door to corruption and invites to the further destruction of protected natural sites.
By changing and amending the Law of Nature Protection, (“Official Gazette RS” No 88/2010), according to Article 35, in the areas designated as the II degree of protection, it is not forbidden ie. one may dam waterways, create hydro accumulations for various purposes, meloration, construction of hydroelectric plants, construction of tourist capacities-hotels, construction of ski lifts, construction of tourist, traffic, energy, communal and other infrastructure. construction of housing objects, fishponds, agricultural farms, farms for breeding domestic and wild animals, hunting, fishing, collecting mushrooms, other plant and animal species, explotation of rock, clay and other natural raw materials, the formation of forest and agricultural monocultures, application of chemicals and introduction of alochton species.
According to the same Article 35, in areas designated as degree III of protection, it is not forbidden to construct industrial and energy projects, asphalt bases, tourist capacities and ski resorts, infrastructure objects, warehouses for industrial goods and building materials, holiday houses, exploitation and processing of raw minerals, forming areas for processing garbage, construction of habitation areas and the widening of construction areas, hunting, fishing, formation of agricultural and forestry monocultures, application of chemical compounds etc.
All this additionally legalizes the current state in protected natural areas, which in the meantime, various individuals and companies did and built illegally and for years destroyed these natural areas.
There is no protected natural site in Serbia that has not been destroyed in these ways, which were legalized by Law in 2010.
More than 90% of the protected areas in Serbia are now in the categories II and III.
It is a fact that in Serbia only 6% of the territory is protected as natural heritages; aiming at saving the biological and environmental diversity and general natural heritage and that these 6% under protection have already been divided under various regimes of protection, in which the I regime occupies only 0.50% of these 6% of protected areas !!
Under the current laws, in the II and III regime of protection, numerous activities are allowed, making it impossible to protect these regions, including those under regime I.
All this is in practice not mentioned and there is general chaos in all the protected areas, all this is now being currently legalized
Besides all this, our Government has in April 2012 brought a new Decree on the regimes in protected areas, although it already entered the pre-election campaign, and such actions are not acceptable.
This Decree additionally degrades the valuable natural heritages of the I degree of protection, confirming and explaining how the natural sites of I degree will be degraded and initiating further, with confusion allowing everyone to act at will with various permissions, spurring new corruption already in existence, not only in this case, but within Serbia as a whole.
Nature protection has been reduced to satisfying megalomaniac requirements of suspectful capital of the “ Business sector”.
The decree concerning the regime of protection published in the Official Gazette 31/2012 enabled that protected areas may be further destroyed in various ways, and that the energy lobby and similar lobbies, have open doors for the further destruction of the environment and protected areas (just to mention, Serbia is the top country in wasteful energy consumption).
The new Decree on the regime of protection, with which new problems are opened, as the Decree is in contradiction with Laws and Acts of proclaiming a protected area, opens the door to increased corruption etc.
The situation is precarious for many already existing protected areas in Serbia, since it is now allowed to perform activities in regimes II and III which have up to now been forbidden.
This will destroy the small areas and the protection of regime I. If all above listed activities are now allowed in areas designated as II and III, the question arises how much territory is really protected.
Also it is a question if protected natural sites under the circumstances really deserve to be considered as protected under the designated categories.
Although only 6% of the territory of Serbia is protected, there are endless attempts to build and destroy just in these regions.
A much higher percentage of Serbian territory deserves protection. Unfortunately, the Government is not interested in increasing the areas deserving protection.
All these activites show that our Government opened a new season and gives support for the destruction of the remaining protected natural areas. Applying such measures as proposed by current Laws is unacceptable and will result further degradation of the biodiversity for which the protected sites were established in the first place.
It should be mentioned that a number of professionals, including expert Serbian meteorologists, warn that in the future, Serbia will be faced with droughts, due to general warming, lack of water, reduced agriculture production etc.
For the Government, this warning is not enough and the next plan is to build a ski resort on Radan Mountain close to Kosovo. This mountain is in the warmer South, and only 1409m above sea level.
One should really pay attention to how donations are spent, what activities are undertaken with this money and is it used for the further destruction of the Serbian Environment, not to mention the possible corruption behind all this.
*** All these activities and Laws should be carefully analysed by the responsible bodies of the EU and corrections should be made by the Serbian Government before any further financial aids are allowed or talks of membership in the EU continue. ***
As a supplement, we send all articles of the Law on the Protection of the Environment and copy of the Official Gazette RS with the published amendments and regimes of protection.
Links to previous SAV posts relating to Stara Planina.
Please look at the photographs within them to see how beautiful natural environments of both flora and fauna are being systematically destroyed:
Below – Pictures from Stara Planina prior to the Government of Serbia changing the environmental regulations for its own convenience – as the above photos show, we have now entered a time when:
“the Government of Serbia reconfirmed the tremendous values of protected areas in recently adopted national strategy for Biodiversity Conservation and also in the new law of Nature protection which is harmonized with relevant EU legislation in this field”.
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