Environmental Victory

AUG 2017: The half-completed TUI Netherlands-linked hotel currently chewing up and spitting out the Lagadin shoreline is officially illegal. Again. This is the latest news from the Republic of Macedonia’s State Administrative Inspectorate, which informed a celebrating Ohrid SOS yesterday that an appeal by the project initiator against a previous decision to halt construction of the hotel had failed. Miserably.

For those of you who don’t know already, Lagadin is a small village on the shores of UNESCO Lake Ohrid and a major battleground in the fight to save from destruction not only some of Europe’s most precious habitats and ecosystems, but also the World Heritage natural resources that are vital to the future of Macedonia’s tourism industry.

Presaging a large makeover in the village, including an artificial beach that will break up ecologically important reed belts, construction of the hotel has been continuing against the will of villagers and environmentalists for several months.

Earlier in the year, Ohrid SOS filed a complaint against the project, claiming that it breaks 12 laws, most importantly protective legislation for Lake Ohrid that forbids construction within 50m of the highest water-level. At the time, the National Inspectorate for Construction and Urbanization agreed with Ohrid SOS. Construction briefly stopped, but then mysteriously and controversially restarted in June.

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In fact, backers had illegally re-initiated the project while appealing the decision, a move that provoked passionate protests in Lagadin. Yesterday’s news that the appeal was unsuccessful therefore marks a major victory for villagers, environmentalists and lovers of World Heritage alike, sending the message that neither Lake Ohrid nor its guardians will be bullied.

The next move is now to get the half-built shell of the hotel torn down. That will be a party. And you’re invited.

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