Bulgaria mulls ban on renewables projects on farmland
No clean energy projects will pop up on arable land in Bulgaria, according to new legislative amendments to be submitted for discussion in Parliament once they have been discussed with the industry. The proposal was met with vehement opposition by developers, with the associations of photovoltaic (PV) and clean energy generators branding it as discminitary as no other projects will be prohibited. The Minitry of Agriculture said the move was aimed at protecting highly fertile land but is also a precaution against speculative renewable energy development where plots could be converted for construction purposes.
"We don’t oppose the ministry’s desire to block the speculative conversion of fertile land but this could be achieved through economic instead of administrative measures," said Nikola Gazdov, chairman of the Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association. "Every serious investor is ready to, say, pay a higher fee to change the land status or submit a guarantee to the municipality or the state," he added. He sounded the alarm that if the proposal is passed, renewables development will be only allowed in meadows and pastures, where a vast portion is included in the the EU Natura 2000 Network of protected species habitat sites.
Velizar Kiryakov, who chairs the Bulgarian Renewable Energy Association, said the industry will on Thursday submit with the ministry a proposal to revise areas with the largest amount of uncultivated land and impose the restriction only on first- and second-category land.
According to the latest data by the farm ministry, a total of 11,500 decares of arable land had been converted to build solar or wind parks by summer 2009. A further 500 applications were filed by the end of the year that are yet to be processed. From some 9.4% at present, Bulgaria’s clean energy supplies should rise to 11% by 2010 and further to 12% by 2013. By 2020, the share should account for 16% of total supplies. With this tough target on its mind, the government last year scrapped a proposal to ban green energy development from Natura 2000 sites.