Minister Sandov presented the team of the Ministry to the parliamentary Environmental Committee

12 Jan, 2022 | 19:22

The Deputy Prime Minister for Climate Policy and Minister of Environment and Water Borislav Sandov presented the team of the Ministry to members of parliament at a sitting of the parliamentary Committee on Environment and Water.

Deputy Minister Toma Belev is responsible for biodiversity. “Quite an important sector in terms of infringement procedures,” said Minister Sandov. Belev will be in charge of national parks, regional environmental and water inspectorates, and the National Coordination Center.

Deputy Minister Nikolay Sidzhimov is responsible for air and waste management. “Two key sectors, given the challenges presented by joint work with municipalities. There are many accumulated problems regarding regional landfills, dumps, and fine particulate matter,” the Minister said.

Deputy Minister Petar Dimitrov is responsible for the water sector, the Basin Directorates, and Operational Program "Environment".

Minister Sandov announced that he is in charge of the Climate Change Policy Directorate at the Ministry of Environment and Water, because this is part of his responsibilities as deputy prime minister for climate policy. The Minister is directly responsible for the Enterprise for Management of Environmental Protection Activities (EMEPA) and the National Trust Ecofund (NTEF).

“Our ambitions are big, there are many problems in the field of environment and water. An indicator are the 16 infringement procedures in the sector,” said Minister Sandov. He noted that last week during the parliamentary control at the National Assembly he explained in detail the progress with each procedure. “Four of the procedures are in the judicial phase. The truth is that we will not be able to act on some of them, because the time for concrete actions is not enough to stop infringement proceedings or to stop the cases in the court in Luxembourg,”  he explained. The Minister of Ecology noted that the intention is to close 6 of the infringement proceedings in the next 6 months, and to remain only with 8 or 9 within the calendar year. “Cooperation by local authorities is needed, for which I cannot make commitments at this stage,” added Sandov.

In turn, committee chairman Manol Genov said that Minister Sandov and his team can rely on the committee for legislative initiatives.

Minister Sandov pointed out that another commitment by the MOEW team is to make the overall activities of the institution more transparent. “This means maximum transparency regarding all procedures, as well as the available information within the ministry.” According to the Minister, there are too many files to be processed by the regional inspectorates for environment and water, on average 3 per day per expert, which is too many and diverts attention from key issues. “With general assessments of certain zones, we would like to reduce the number of these files,” he explained.

Minister Sandov noted that there is serious pressure on employees. “Yesterday I announced an unacceptable behavior by an investor in the Eastern Rhodopes, who allowed himself to be rude to employees of RIEW-Smolyan and told them that regardless of their decision, he will realize his investment intention. For me, this is absolutely unacceptable and I made public this part of the recording from the meeting of the Regional Environmental Expert Council,” said the Minister and stressed that he hopes this will be a clear signal to anyone in interaction with the state that everything should be legal, and vice versa, if there are signs of corruption, the state will act to protect citizens and businesses, because its role is to enforce the law.

In response to an inquiry about the implementation of the Operational Program “Environment” (OPE) 2014-2020, the Minister said that as of December 31 last year 49% (BGN 1.649 billion) of the funds were paid out. Sandov noted that there is a delay in most of the projects, and there are some in critical condition.

At the meeting, it was elaborated on the need for a new project for the route of the Struma Motorway at the Kresna Gorge. It became clear that the European Commission (EC) is requesting a new environmental impact assessment for the construction of the motorway route. Minister Sandov pointed out that the Ministry of Environment and Water will also wait on the plan of the Road Infrastructure Agency and will discuss the project with the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works.

The Ministry of Environment and Water will launch demonstration and information projects for the deposit system for packaging (plastic, glass bottles and cans). It is also envisaged to improve the unified information system, which will include all participants in waste management.