Since 2007, more than 360 projects have been proposed for the area which will cause direct loss of almost all areas where red-breasted geese feed during winter.
Bulgaria became a member of the European Union in January 2007 bringing the country under the same environmental legislation that applies to other Member States.
This includes obligations under the Birds Directive to designate areas of European significance for birds as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and then to protect them.
However, Bulgaria failed to fully designate its Important Bird Areas (IBAs) as SPAs and permitted uncontrolled developments on many of them. One of the most important is Kaliakra on the Black Sea coast. This site and the region hosts most of the global wintering population of endangered red-breasted goose and in spring and autumn is a stop-over site for tens of thousands of migratory birds.
The situation at Kaliakra was bleak
Hundreds of wind turbines were given permission to be build within the SPA and the area of the IBA excluded from the site. Some of the land was converted for orchards and in neighbouring Belite Skali SPA, a golf course and hotel development obliterated most of the habitats used by breeding and migrating birds.
Further north, consented wind energy projects threaten even more wintering geese feeding areas. These built and consented projects also threaten the tens of thousands of birds which fly through the area every year.
These cases have been the subject of sustained work from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), supported by RSPB for over ten years. Our actions have now lead to the full designation of all but one of the IBAs previously not designated as SPA, including at Kaliakra.
Sustained pressure has forced the government to bring in new laws to limit the validity of consents to five years if they are not built. All new wind energy development in and around SPAs has been banned, and further wind energy development is now guided by a national plan, following a Strategic Environmental Assessment and sensitivity mapping process.
In January 2016 the judgement of the European Court of Justice condemned Bulgaria for failing to fully designate and protect Kaliakra and neighbouring sites. BSPB supported by RSPB will now work to ensure that the Bulgarian Government makes good the damage to these sites, while continuing to improve its regulation of development that might affect Natura 2000 sites more generally.