Even after 20 years, the ownership of Most and Milada Lakes remains unclear
PRESS RELEASE on Audit No. 15/21 – April 11, 2016
The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) scrutinized funds that were utilized by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the state enterprise Palivový kombinát Ústí (Fuel Processing Plant) during rehabilitation works within the period 2002–2015 in the abandoned mines of Ležáky and Chabařovice in the Ústí nad Labem Region. Artificial lakes Most and Milada were created in the rehabilitated areas. By the end of 2014, the expenses of rehabilitation works exceeded CZK 8,000 million, out of which CZK 2,000 million were scrutinized by the SAO. In spite of the significant amounts invested by the State, the ownership of the rehabilitated areas remains unclear as well as conditions for their further development and operation. Thus, any improvement of their public use is prevented.
The ownership issues have been unclear since the first half of the 1990’s, i. e. the period when the decision to rehabilitate both areas was adopted. In 2011, the state enterprise Fuel Processing Plant Ústí recommended to transfer these lands to the nearest municipalities without requiring financial compensations. The Ministry of Finance and the Office for the Protection of Competition warned that such transfers could violate the EU legislation concerning granting of public aid but later neither institution determined whether those would be the cases of public aid. The Ministry only postponed terms for making the decision on the ownership of the Milada Lake from 2015 to the end of 2017 and in case of the Most Lake, the term was postponed from 2017 to the end of 2019.
When the ownership of the lands is clear, further development of the said area would make it possible to create fully functioning suburban recreational resorts in the future. The existing conditions are favourable, as the lakes are easily accessible for the population and large: the Milada Lake has more than 250 hectares while the Most Lake has over 300 hectares.
The SAO warned that it is essential to set conditions, under which the new owners may acquire these properties as there is a thread that new owners may not develop them, for example by constructing new cycle routes, recreation facilities, roads, water supply systems, and other infrastructure.
The SAO recommends that ownership issues and operating conditions are tackled in advance in case any further rehabilitation works in the Ústí nad Labem Region result in creating other large bodies of water, otherwise future rehabilitation projects face similar difficulties.
The audit did not find any serious errors in management with funds that were used for the rehabilitation works.
Supreme Audit Office