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Constitutional Court rejects bill on park ownership

Issues

The Hungarian Constitutional Court today ruled that amendments approved by Parliament in April to transfer management rights for state-owned land, including national parks, to the National Land Management Fund (NFA), go against the basic law.

The court said parts of the legislation requiring approval by two-thirds of lawmakers that had been cleared with just a 50% majority were unconstitutional, according to Hungarian news agency MTI. The court also deemed unconstitutional the transfer of some areas of protected land from the management of the National Parks Directorates to the NFA on the basis of economic principle, MTI added.

It was earlier reported that Hungary could lose a large portion of its protected parkland according to the amendment, as it would have made NFA eligible to rent or sell the land, according to daily Népszabadság.

The Hungarian government passed the bill on April 28, with 110 voting in favor and 57 voting against.

Associations for environmental protection and opposition parties have vocally been against the measure as they believe the national parks’ managing bodies will be unable to control the parks and protected areas would be jeopardized as a result.

Opposition MP Benedek R. Sallai (LMP) said earlier that the latest development is at odds with European Union norms in which the ratio of protected national parkland is increasing in the EU while it is decreasing in Hungary.

According to WWF Hungary and other Hungarian associations, the measure is against the Hungarian constitution because it violates the responsible and sustainable usage of natural resources, and therefore violates the right of Hungarians for a healthy environment.

The legislation was referred to the Constitutional Court by President János Áder.

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