Serious negligence on the Peninsula – results of NIK audit

Półwyspie Helskim

Man is threatening the Hel Peninsula, these are the results of an audit conducted between 2020 and 2023, the Supreme Audit Institution reported. The final document, Protecting the Seashore on the Hel Peninsula, points to a number of problems associated with the ineffective operation of the Maritime Office in Gdynia, the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Gdansk and other local offices. Among other things, it stated. Illegal beach expansion and lack of proper shoreline protection.

Hel Peninsula needs protection

The Hel Peninsula, as an area of unique natural and landscape values, is protected by the rules of the Seaside Landscape Park and the European Ecological Network Natura 2000. It is also home to the Salt Meadows and Helski Wydmy reserves. In addition, in the area of the Puck Bay and Hel Peninsula, habitats and birds are protected in a special way.

Intensive tourist activity on the peninsula threatens the local landscape and nature. As a result, individual offices have been given the responsibility to supervise and appropriately counteract negative developments. The NIK had already audited their effectiveness in 2011-2013 and the conclusions were not satisfactory. Unfortunately, after another decade, the situation is still far from ideal.

How was the inspection in the Peninsula?

In 2020. On its own initiative, the NIK has launched an audit of the measures taken by the government and local government bodies to protect the sea shores on the Hel Peninsula. The inspectors used aerial and satellite imagery, seabed relief analysis and the results of field visits to assess the condition of beaches, dunes and forests. Due to storms and erosion from the sea, the stability of the shoreline and the possibility of rebuilding dune embankments were also studied.

As for the infrastructure protecting the shores and protecting the Hel Peninsula from flooding, the results of the inspection were satisfactory. The Maritime Office in Gdynia is responsible for 20 fortifications, including two breakwaters and 16 coastal bands, and their condition has been found to be satisfactory. Inspections of their technical condition were carried out in a timely manner, although in the case of 9 facilities the post-inspection recommendations were not implemented.

Harmful passivity of authorities

A much bigger problem in the view of the controllers is the impact of human activity on the shoreline. Unfortunately, the authorities with the power to supervise, control and enforce regulations protecting the Peninsula’s coastline are not doing their job properly.

The NIK audit found that the owners of 8 of the 9 campgrounds operating on the Hel Peninsula had, on their own, without the regulatory approval of the Director of the Maritime Office, filled and embanked soil in the protected strip, including the seashore. The UM director did not use his authority and did not initiate administrative proceedings aimed at imposing appropriate fines. In doing so, he failed in his duty to protect the seashore.

A similar caveat applies to the lack of response to the erection of caravans and water sports school facilities on the expanded beach. The Director of the Maritime Authority should have taken action to protect the property of the State Treasury and to seek compensation for the illegal use of land belonging to it.

The NIK also gave a negative assessment of the activities of the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Gdansk, which failed to plan and carry out adequate inspections of compliance with nature protection regulations on the Hel Peninsula. In particular, this involved ad hoc inspections of campsites, which were justified by information received by the office about irregularities.

Other negligence found by the NIK is the result of the incompetence of the Provincial Building Control Inspectorate in Gdansk. They concerned insufficient supervision and control over compliance with the Construction Law in the Peninsula’s technical belt. The Hel Municipality was alleged to have entered into 21 contracts for the sale of properties located in the protective strip without the required agreement with the Director of the Maritime Office. One such illegal agreement for the sale of real estate was also made by the Wladyslawow City Hall. As a result, the NIK has filed a notice with the prosecutor’s office that a crime may have been committed.

Conclusions of the audit

The analysis carried out by the NIK resulted in the submission of proposals to the heads of the audited units to strengthen supervision of the seashores of the Hel Peninsula, especially the control of campgrounds. At the same time, the NIK appealed to the Minister of Climate and Environment to review the conservation task plans for the Natura 2000 areas in the Puck Bay and the peninsula, and to expand the provisions for assessing a project’s impact on the environment.

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