A forest has been cut down for a failed shooting range in Tokaj’s world heritage site
“Construction work on the shooting range has begun on the Tarcal side of Tokaji Hill, along one of the main and most beautiful tourist routes above the mine, and we are confident that a larger part will be rebuilt than the planned building complex.” – this news was posted in a Facebook group by locals last summer. Then in the autumn it turned out that the planned shooting range project did not get the necessary permit, but by then the trees had been cut down for construction on a hill on the edge of the Tokaj-Bodrogzug Landscape Protection Area. The is also a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. We show the damaged landscape on camera drone video.
On a hill (Tokaji-hegy or Kopasz-hegy) in the village of Tarcal, a private company planned to build a huge shooting range together with service buildings (accommodation, café, etc.) in a place surrounded by nature reserves. The location is also protected as part of a World Heritage Site, the Tokaj Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2002.
The local council supported the shooting range project and sold land to the company with a 50% discount. The plan was thwarted by the environmental authority’s (the government office) decision last fall. By then the trees had been cut down to prepare for the construction, and the massive bare area in the wooded parts can be clearly seen on our drone video.
In 2016, the municipal council of Tarcal sold the area for “tourism development purposes” to a local entrepreneur, Ferenc Gazdag. He was the only applicant for the tender announced for the area, the sale price was the minimum amount indicated in the announcement (HUF 15 million).
The municipality gave a 50% discount in exchange for the company employing two full-time employees for one year after the finishing of the planned investment. A modification plan of the local settlement planning tools was prepared for the project, which clearly shows the location of the failed shooting range.
Atlatszo has reported on a number of such cases which show that often there is environmental destruction due to clumsiness, chaos in the administration, or corruption.
There are only four countries in the world that do not have an independent Ministry of the Environment: Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tanzania, Hungary – stated Tímea Szabó, the leader of the Parliamentary faction of Párbeszéd Magyarország, one of the opposition parties, in the debate of the proposed climate emergency law.
Written by Gabriella Horn, video by Dániel Németh. The original, more detailed story in Hungarian is available here.