After three years, court rules against golf project on the Srđ mountain near Dubrovnik.
The Administrative Court in Split issued a verdict on Friday which annulled a decision of the Ministry of Environmental Protect and Nature on the admissibility of the environmental impact study for the construction of sports and recreational centre with a golf course on the mountain of Srđ in Dubrovnik. This means that the Court has accepted a lawsuit submitted in April 2013 by the Green Action, the Croatian Association of Architects and the “Srđ Is Ours” Initiative, reports net.hr on September 2, 2016.
“This is a great victory for NGOs, primarily the ‘Srđ Is Ours’ Citizens’ Initiative and Green Action. This harmful and corrupt project was supported are all major political parties in Croatia. This finally proves that they are all the one and the same interest group which does not care about public interest”, said Maro Kristić, a town councillor in Dubrovnik.
He added that the study and the whole process had been returned to the Ministry for reconsideration. “This means that the Ministry will issue a new decision that will annul the study, and that will automatically have repercussions on the location permits issued on the basis of the illegal study in December last year. These permits were issued by then Minister of Construction and Urban Planning Anka Mrak-Taritaš. This is a victory for the rule of law. A verdict of the High Administrative Court in Zagreb will also have to be implemented, which means that the area of the project will have to return from 300 to 100 hectares, which was the original area until 2005, when it was illegally expanded”, said Krstić.
He added that the verdict meant that nothing would ever be the same, as far as the golf project is concerned. “We support investments, but here it turned out that this project had not respected the law from the very beginning. We support creation of new jobs and benefits for the local community, but not in order for corrupt state and local officials to receive bribes”, said Krstić.
Ivan Kusalić from the Golf Development company, said on Friday that the Administrative Court in Split made the verdict on procedural grounds. “Verbal explanation of the verdict demonstrates that the Ministry’s decision has been annulled due to a formal mistake by the Ministry”, said Kusalić. He pointed out that the Court had in no way brought into question the expert conclusions of the study. “The Court has not concluded that the project has detrimental impact on the environment, but it just annulled the decision for formal reasons”, he said.
Kusalić added that representatives of the Ministry were not present at court hearings, due to the decision by current Minister of Environmental Protection and Nature Slaven Dobrović (MOST). “Representatives of the Ministry were forbidden to participate in all three hearings, which meant they lost the opportunity to argue their case”, said Kusalić. He added that several of MOST’s MPs knew in advance how the verdict would come out. “Since Monday, some of MOST’s MPs have been discussing the verdict which had not yet been announced”, said Kusalić.
Asked to comment on claims that location permit for the golf course will now be annulled, Kusalić replied that it was not the subject of the court case. “The verdict does not mention this. There is no reason to talk about it because that was not part of these proceedings”, concluded Kusalić.