Environmental organizations announce protests to oppose law on “Protected Areas”

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Main Albanian environmental organizations announced protests to oppose the draft law on “Protected Areas” expected to be voted on in a plenary session in the Albanian Parliament on Thursday.

According to the organizations, “the proposed draft law paves the way for the destruction of National Parks and marks the end of the national network of Protected Areas”.

“This draft law threatens decades of conservation efforts and investments to protect Albania’s natural heritage,” says a statement from the Albanian Nature Protection Organization, PPNEA.

Previously, the Albanian Ornithologists’ Association, and 56 leading environmental organizations strongly opposed the draft law.

According to the organizations, “the Albanian Government has ignored the calls of the European Union to stop the voting on this law, seriously jeopardizing Albania’s integration into the European Union”.

Members of the majority party in the Parliamentary Commission for Production Activity and the Environment approved the final version of the draft law on Monday in an online meeting, disregarding the request of civil society representatives to withdraw the proposed amendments and initiate a broad consultation process.

Even the European Union Ambassador to Tirana, Silvio Gonzato, demanded that “any change to the current law be subject to a comprehensive, fact-based consultation involving all stakeholders”.

The major concern of environmental organizations is related to the new draft law, which gives the National Territorial Council the decisive authority for activities to be carried out within “Protected Areas”.

From the published views of the Parliament regarding the decision of the Parliamentary Commission on Production Activities, Article 33, proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, is approved without changes, allowing: “activities developed in accommodation structures of excellence, 5 stars or more, in the field of tourism and any other supporting activity/infrastructure or in their function, regardless of whether this is determined in the Council of Ministers’ declaration of the protected area”.

The draft law on Protected Areas was initially presented by 12 Socialist deputies, who argued that it was the demand of several mayors that the changes be adapted to development needs.

The deputies proposed in the initial version that 20% of the territory of Protected Areas be administered by municipalities.

But the draft of the 12 deputies was rejected after the Government sent a new proposal to the Parliament with the title “opinion giving”, granting the National Territorial Regulation Council authority for development permits within Protected Areas.

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