Supreme Court of Ukraine stands in guard over the Danube Delta!
On 13 November 2007 the Supreme Court Administrative Proceedings Chamber quashed all rulings of economic courts which had permitted the withdrawal of the Bystre Mouth from the territory of the Danube Biosphere Reserve.
The panel of six judges, having heard the arguments of the Reserves representatives, found that there had been serious infringements of land legislation. It concluded that there had been no grounds for the decisions taken to invalidate the State certificate for permanent land use of 22,000 hectares of the Danube Delta, issued in 2000 to the Danube Biosphere Reserve.
The Odessa Regional Economic Court, the Odessa Economic Court of Appeal, and the High Administrative Court all balked at upholding the land rights of the Reserve against a “raider” assault by the Ministry of Transport.
The civil suits were aimed at bypassing the procedure stipulating by the Land Code for withdrawing particularly valuable land for public needs and the need to get the permission of the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers
The court proceedings were initiated with the Vilkovo City Council applying to have the land rights to the Bystre Mouth withdrawn. The case began in 2003 and in May 2004, the dredging works in the deep-water Danube – Black sea Canal were commenced at the Bystre Mouth
The Supreme Court has sent the case back for a new examination in a first instance court. However, from the point of view of protection of the biological diversity of the Danube Delta, this ruling has effectively reinstated the State certificate entitling the Danube Biosphere Reserve to permanent use of the area.
Serhiy Fedorynchyk of the environmental organization Zeleny Svit [Green World] passes on congratulations to Olha Melen and EPL over an important environmental protection precedent in the highest court in the country.
He stresses that environmentalists are not disputing the need for the Danube – Black Sea Shipping Canal, but can point to many alternatives to the Bystre Mouth which do not bring with them the destruction of the Danube Biosphere Reserve.