Bulgaria’s government backed a memorandum with the company Madara Europe, represented in Bulgaria by offshore company Rainbow Malta Limited, according to reports of Sega daily. The company plans to invest over BGN 100 M in three hotels and three public service areas in the area. The project is to create 500 jobs in the municipality of Byala.

Environmentalists are organizing a protest over the memorandum Wednesday at 6pm in front of the Council of Ministers building in Sofia. A media statement of the government informs that the memorandum entitles the investor to fast-track administrative service and institutional support from an inter-ministerial working group under the Investment Promotion Act.

The InvestBulgaria Agency is to award Madara Europe an A-class investor certificate on the basis of the memorandum, as a result of which the company will be granted financial advantages. In mid-2013, Madara Europe renewed efforts to fulfill its intentions of building a holiday complex worth EUR 220 M in the area.

In its initial form, the project known as Black Sea Gardens, envisaged construction works on a plot of around 700 decares in the area near the popular Karadere beach and the construction of a holiday village with 5000 apartments and villas with a bed capacity for 15 400. In May 2011, the environmental inspectorate in Burgas approved the project, but environmentalists lodged a complaint with the Environment Minister, claiming that the inspectorate’s statement was flawed.

Under the initial version of the project, the investment was to amount to around EUR 1 B. The initial project was drafted by the world-famous architectural firm Foster + Partners in cooperation with architect Georgii Stanishev, brother of former Prime Minister and socialist leader Sergey Stanishev.

The project has been reworked and now spans a gross floor area of 210 decares. It envisages the construction of 1200 separate housing units with an average size of around 120 square meters of gross floor area. The Karadere beach is part of the Natura 2000 network, in the protected area Kamchiyska Planina, for the conservation of bird species and protected area Shkorpilovtsi Beach for the conservation of the conservation of natural habitats, wild flora and fauna.

The government’s decision clashes with the stance of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which submitted to Parliament a draft memorandum on banning construction works on Black Sea coast areas in 2013.

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A protest rally, titled “Hands off Irakli,” is taking place Monday in the capital Sofia and in the second and third largest Bulgarian cities of Plovdiv and Varna.

The rallies start at 5:30 pm and are organized through the social network Facebook. Over 3 000 have already joined online and the number keeps growing.

In Sofia, the demonstrators are gathering at the monument of Patriarch Evtimiy at the intersection known as Popa (the Priest). The procession starts at 6 pm in the direction of the Parliament, where the protest meeting is scheduled for 6 pm.

The organizers stress the rally is legal since a permit has been officially requested.

In Plovdiv, the gathering point is the central Saednenie (Unification) square, while the one in Varna is in front of the building of the “Stoyan Bachvarov” theater.

The outrage was triggered by information that a company, Emona 2000, was pouring concrete to build a vacation village on what is one of the last remaining non-urbanized beaches in Bulgaria – Irakli.

The demonstrators demand to declare Irakli and two other beaches so far without construction – Kara Dere and Kamchiyski Pyasatsi – protected areas and to issue orders for including them in Natura 2000.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters continues to reiterate that the grounds of the protest are subjective and lack constructiveness.

An official statement, sent to the media by the Ministry’s press office, stresses that the terrain where the construction of the vacation village is taking place has been legally urbanized and by the time the investment proposal has been received there have been old vacation buildings on it.

The statement is citing a probe assigned by Environmental Minister, Nona Karadzhova, upon receiving information about construction activities in Irakli. It underscores that “the procedure has been conducted in full adherence to the eco legislation and in full transparency.

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