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Popular, Wild Kisoroszi ‘Szigetcsúcs’ to Be Developed Amid Protest

Ábrahám Vass 2021.08.27.

The local government of Kisoroszi is set to develop the popular camping and holiday spot at the Northern tip of Szentendre Island, known as the Kisoroszi ‘Szigetcsúcs’ (island peak). Due to its wild, off-the-beaten-track and scenic atmosphere, many view the nearing development works with mistrust, fearing that the popular holiday spot will lose its charm and the environment will be damaged from the project.

The ‘Szigetcsúcs’ has long been popular among those who are either just stopping by for a day by car or with canoe, or for the many who choose to stay for a longer period with a tent. It is also located in a very scenic location: in the middle of Danube Bend with sights of Visegrád Castle or over to Nagymaros. Faithfully in accordance with the location’s reputation, infrastructure is also limited: only two blocks of toilets serve campers, and there is no electricity. Back in the 80s, due to increased vehicle traffic, a gate was set up in order to prevent vehicles from reaching the camping and bathing areas. In addition, the territory is officially a NATURA 2000 area, which means it falls under a kind of protection.

Lately, however, especially on weekends, many have been flocking out to the shore, resulting in crowds and their accompanying features: often mounting garbage, etc. This is exactly one of the reasons which the local government bases its arguments on when confirming the need for the development works.

Expecting a decrease of pressure on both locals and the environment with the project, the municipality led by independent Mayor Csaba Molnár wants to build out gutters, asphalt alleyways, set up additional parking places, toilets (some 44 more), showers (some 30 more) and cabins out of the HUF 370 million (EUR 1.1 million) it had won for the project. After his election in 2017, Molnár made clear his intentions with the area, dreaming, for example, of a narrow-gauge railway running out to the area and gastronomy days to be held there. He even ordered an impact assessment, which confirmed that the project was good to go.

On the other hand, the project has also been criticized by many who fear it may spoil the place and its atmosphere. The Danube-Ipoly National Park has expressed concerns multiple times. Reportedly, locals would have wanted some more answers too, but the mayor proved to be laconic both with them and the press, pointing to the plans without speaking to the public, and demanding some HUF 70 thousand (EUR 200) for even showing the relevant contracts to the press. Certain civil organizations also protest against the plans, fearing that the works will spoil both the atmosphere and the environment.

An online signature drive addressing the Pest County Government Office has already collected more than 5,000 signatures in order to prevent the project. “We demand that the competent supervisory authority take action against the planned large-scale nature-damaging investment by fully enforcing nature conservation laws. We demand that the peaceful, quiet, special nomadic camp for water tourists should not be transformed into a large-scale tourism enterprise that destroys nature,” they write. The signatories also call for all investment plans, leases, environmental impact assessments to be made immediately and easily available, and for the Szigetcsúcs to be left in its current state.

Mayor Molnár, on the other hand, told news portal Telex that in his view the petition was just a political bluff and protests are weightless, highlighting that the appeal has only been signed by just some 30 local residents.

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12 thousand Hungarians and six thousand Austrians have already signed online petitions to stop the development.  Continue reading

As of now, both the government’s Tourism Agency and the relevant Government office have since authorized the project, and permissions have been obtained too. Molnár says he wants to get the job done in 2021. In addition, the constructor, a company close to government circles, have already taken over the area reportedly, which means that the project could hardly be stopped at this point.

featured image via Balázs Mohai/MTI