|Protestors carried away by police (photo credit: Reuters)|
How often does a new law concerning the ski industry evoke such sentiment that police are forced to don riot gear? In the United States - never. In Bulgaria - apparently two days in a row.
Bulgaria's parliament has approved legislation making it easier for ski resorts to develop new trails, lifts, and infrastructure within the country. Reuters is reporting that the new law sparked wild protests from Bulgarian environmental activists, angered by what they view as the "plundering" of the country's forests. For a second straight day, as many as 1,500 protestors demonstrated in the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia and 9 were arrested.
The Balkan nation of Bulgaria is a burgeoning ski destination. Marketing itself as a lower cost alternative to the Alps - but hyping comparably terrain and snowfall - skiing has become big business in Bulgaria. Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov has maintained the the law is aimed at trying to improve the country's ski resorts in an effort to attract more tourists.
Environmental groups disagree. They believe the new law, which allows developers to build without first obtaining a "servitude" is a thinly-veiled attempt by developers to destroy the nation's forests in search of a profit. Far from it for this blog to claim to know even the slightest about Bulgarian property law, but from what we have gleaned from various reports, it appears that, previously, resort owners were required to obtain government approvals before building. Under the new scheme, the developers are granted carte blanche, at least with respect to their own property and quite possibly also on public land near a resort. The government would also waive any fees formerly levied by the government on ski resort developments.
In contrast, the United States has not seen this type of unrestricted land use policy since at least before the administration of Theodore Roosevelt. Few are stauncher defenders of Blackstonian property rights than this blog, but even Ski, Esq. would suggest that the new law may be a step too far. While, the onerous review process currently required by the US Forest Service is overbearing and unduly burdensome, some review should be a prerequisite.