140,489 of 175,000 signatures

Commissioner Karmenu Vella (Commissioner Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries), Commissioner Corina Creţu (Commissioner Regional Policy) and European Commission

Petition

We call upon you to ensure that European laws for the protection of nature are respected and the pristine valley of Kresna Gorge in Bulgaria is saved from destruction.

In particular, we demand that the European Commission refuses to release any subsidies for the construction of a major motorway, which would cut through the precious Natura 2000 site protected under European and Bulgarian law. We demand that the Commission ensures that all but local traffic is removed from the gorge, and the motorway is built fully outside of it.

Why is this important?

A magical river valley, Bulgaria’s richest nature reserve will be subject to bidding in a few weeks time. Bidding from roadbuilders, all of whom want to put tarmac on the valley to build a trans-european motorway. [1] Heavy construction machines and hot asphalt will destroy the habitat of hundreds of Europe’s rarest species.

The Bulgarian government is sticking to their damaging plans even though there is a reasonable alternative to the motorway. [2] They have already broken a number of European laws that protect nature, but the European Commission has only imposed conditions, which are not sufficiently implemented and remain ineffective. [3] Kresna Gorge is a protected nature reserve and it is the duty of the European Commission to preserve this precious natural jewel.

Locals have been protesting for over 20 years to protect the Kresna Gorge, but all their petitions and complaints to the Commission couldn’t stop the Struma motorway from routing through the gorge. When the fight seems too big for locals alone, we, as citizens of Europe can come together. With a massive public outcry from all over Europe we can persuade the Commission to open an infringement procedure and to take resolute actions to stop the roadbuilders before they destroy the habitat for bear, wolf, butterfly and bat.

The narrow valley is home to protected species of snakes, tortoises and golden eagles and it is a crucial north-south migratory corridor for bears and wolves. It is a spectacular nature haven in southwestern Bulgaria, home to twice as many butterfly species as the whole of the UK.

But in October 2017 the Bulgarian Government decided it would carve through the 16 km-long Kresna Gorge to build a road that would finally connect Hamburg with Sofia and Thessaloniki. While almost everybody - the EU, the Bulgarian government and local population - agrees to create this missing link, the Bulgarian government clings stubbornly to the routing through the gorge locals and environmentalists protest against while pointing out to an alternative path in the east of the valley.

Bulgaria received money from the EU to establish Kresna Gorge as a protected nature reserve years ago. Now they’re asking for money to destroy it! In the weeks to come the last tranche of the already approved funding has to be released by the European Commission. We are asking the Commission to stick to the set conditions and withhold the subsidies to ensure that the no nature in Kresna Gorge is put at risk or destroyed.

References:

[1] The source is in Bulgarian. Summary translation was provided by our partner Za Zemiata: http://www.mrrb.government.bg/bg/hemus-i-struma-ste-budat-prioritet-na-mrrb-i-prez-2018-g/

[2] http://www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/biodiversity/2017/save_kresna_gorge_briefing.pdf

[3] 2008 EIA/ AA decision 1-1/2008 of the Ministry of Environment and Water

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