Circular economy and air cleanliness with emphasis on electromobility will be a priority in the preparation of the next programming period of Operational Programme Environment (OPE). This was announced by the Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov to the deputies from the National Assembly's Environment and Water Committee at an external meeting in Bansko, organized by the Committee Chairman Ivelina Vassileva. The Minister briefed the Commission on the progress of the implementation of the 2014-2020 OPE and on the preparation of the next programming period.
The problem of air pollution will continue to be a priority in the next programming period of OPE, Minister Dimov said categorically. Now 111 million leva have been earmarked for this purpose and they are directed to seven municipalities. These funds will not be enough, so we see the projects as pilot so that after their realization we have reason to insist on providing resources in the next period, the Minister noted. He pointed out that according to the World Bank between $ 480 million and $ 880 million in the preparation of the National Program for the Improvement of Ambient Air Quality (2018-2024) needed to tackle air pollution problems. Apart from replacing the heaters, we will try to negotiate means to reduce pollution from road traffic by electrification of public transport, as well as to stimulate households to buy electric cars, said Minister Dimov. On a question by Ivelina Vassileva, Chairman of the Commission, on seeking additional resources for measures to reduce air pollution, Minister Dimov pointed out that the possibility of financing is also sought under the EU LIFE program as well as from the state budget. According to him, municipalities should also have their commitment.
The circular economy will be at the center of the next programming period, Minister Dimov said. The goal is to turn waste into a resource and minimize landfilling. This requires a change in thinking, introducing new technologies and making strategic decisions. The programme's scope for re-use of construction waste, water and other resources will be widely opened, the Minister explained.
It is important that we will be able to cope with the submission of projects for the 14 consolidated water supply and sewerage systems in order to be able to protect a large enough amount for the next programming period and to improve water supply and wastewater treatment, said Minister Dimov. On a parliamentary question on the financing of treatment facilities for small municipalities of 2,000 to 10,000 inhabitants, Minister Dimov announced that the rules of the Enterprise for Management of Environmental Protection Activities (EMEPA) have been changed, giving the opportunity to finance projects of small municipalities.
The management of the sites of the European Natura 2000 network will also have to be guaranteed in the next programming period in order to implement the programs and plans that are being prepared in the current one, the minister added. We need to see how this period can end with the actual shaping of the Natura 2000 network and more field work. In the next programming period we will need to fund conservation measures and support the local structures created by the changes to the Biodiversity Act (BDA). Minister Dimov presented to MEPs the amendments to the law introducing a new approach to the management of the Natura 2000 sites, with an emphasis on local communities. It provides for the creation of new structures to introduce active measures for the management of the zones. They will include a wider range of stakeholders. "From the beginning of my mandate, I try to put local communities in the focus of environmental policy. Local communities know best how to develop their areas. The purpose of the BDA is to give them more opportunities to make decisions", the minister said.