Lower house approves bill on national parks

The lower house has approved fundamental changes to the law governing the country’s four national parks. The proposed changes include relaxing the ban on tourist access to the most sensitive and valuable areas of the parks and at the same time significantly increasing the number of non-intervention areas which are off limits to loggers, development and enterprise. The proposed law has caused heated controversy especially as regards the Šumava National Park where critics say it will severely restrict the development of villages inside the park. Environment Minister Richard Brabec has welcomed the bill’s approval. It will now go to the Senate for debate.