Houses keep appearing in flood-prone area despite risks

Despite objections from the State Environmental Service, the Ropaži Municipality Council continues to adopt decisions on construction around Lake Mašēnu in Garkalne municipality, where there are floodplains or flood risks. The Environmental Service opposes these plans, Latvian Television's "De Facto" reported on May 12.

This is a site that was featured on "De Facto" a year ago, when a pond was filled in. According to the State Environmental Service, it is a flooding area. At that time, Rūta Sniedze-Kretalova, an expert of the Latvian Fund for Nature, expressed her dismay at the filling in of the pond. "No dam, no restored drainage system, no filled floodplain reduces the amount of water in nature. And this only means that we are putting more pressure on other areas that may not even be flooding at the moment," she said at the time.

However, this did not stop the municipality from deciding to continue building on the area.

The area around Lake Mašēnu is a place where the developer has been building residential villages for many years. Efforts to build where it was previously not allowed because of flood risk have been going on all this time – successfully.

The plan can still be challenged before May 29 in the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM). The Environmental Service also plans to send its opinion to the Ministry by then that no construction should be allowed there. Moreover, the area has been illegally raised by two meters, and other irregularities have been found.

This means that nothing should happen there. However, there is already a new building on the site. Construction has started without even waiting for a building permit, which means that the decision to halt the process has actually come too late. The future depends on the developer and the landowner - a decision by the building authority to demolish the structure and legal proceedings, or efforts to find solutions and legalize the construction could follow.

The developer suggests that the latter will follow, with a possible change of land use purpose.

Kārlis Opincāns, the developer's representative, told LTV that the commissioning of the lake is currently underway. "And at the moment when the commissioning of the lake cleaning project is completed, this situation will probably change," he said.

The responsible ministry will give its assessment on the local plans only after the end of the appeal period, when it has received all the information. However, the ministry believes that the municipality will have to take full responsibility for building permits already issued in flood-prone areas.

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