site.btaSupreme Administrative Court Finds RIEW's Refusal for Gas Exploration in Dobrudzha Unlawful

Supreme Administrative Court Finds RIEW's Refusal for Gas Exploration in Dobrudzha Unlawful
Supreme Administrative Court Finds RIEW's Refusal for Gas Exploration in Dobrudzha Unlawful
BTA Photo

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) upheld the decision of the Administrative Court - Varna from January this year, which annulled the refusal of the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water (RIEW) to do exploration and extract natural gas on the territory of Dobrich region, the press centre of the SAC announced on Tuesday. The subject of the litigation is an investment proposal by Rusgeocom BG Ltd for the "Development and utilization of the Spasovo field with an area of 219 sq km in the Dobrich block, including four sections - Rogozina, Chernookovo, Kalina and Rogozina East - for exploration and extraction of natural gas."

The SAC held that the decision on the environmental assessment of the RIEW was unlawful and the first instance court correctly annulled it. It does not set out any factual grounds for its adoption. The specific facts and evidence to be considered are not set out, nor are the views of the parties and participants on those facts. The EIAB has also not considered the facts, evidence, and submissions of the parties.

In their decision, the Administrative Court - Varna pointed out that it is not the quality and content of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report that is subject to judicial review, but the legality of the decision refusing its approval.

The court of first instance draws attention to the contradictory opinions of the same authorities - the basin directorates Danube Region and Black Sea Region, as well as the Regional Health Inspectorate in Dobrich. It is also pointed out that only the opinions collected after the public hearings are cited selectively, and they are in the opposite sense to those given in the initial assessment of the report.

Because of these violations, the supreme magistrates held that the decision of the Varna Administrative Court was correct and should be upheld, the SAC added.

Gas exploration and extraction in the region has sparked serious public controversy over the past few years. Rusgeokom's intention has driven the local population to a series of protests, and in 2017 a referendum was held in General Toshevo, where 97%  voted against. There were also protests by farmers in the municipality.

In February, the mayor of General Toshevo, Valentin Dimitrov, and civil activists discussed with the Minister of Environment and Water Borislav Sandov the lost case for gas extraction by Rusgeokom on the territory of the municipality. Now, civil society and the Ministry of Environment and Water, represented by the Regional Environmental Inspectorate in Varna, are on the same side, Albena Simeonova, MP from Dobrich in the 45th and 46th National Assemblies, told BTA at the time. Tenants, farmers, the mayors of the 18 affected settlements, the Municipal Council of General Toshevo – they are all against gas extraction, she added.

/RY/

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By 17:10 on 11.08.2022 Today`s news

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