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Coastal Zones: Environmental organizations call on Greek government to withdraw controversial provisions

Eight environmental organizations are calling on the Greek government to withdraw the controversial provisions in a law on coastal zones that was tabled in a parliamentary committee on Wednesday. The draft legislation erodes environmental protections and plan a national policy for climate resilience.

The groups said the bill does not introduce any meaningful positive measures for the effective protection and management of the coastal zone, while crucial provisions related to climate change adaptation are missing (e.g. there is no reference to other natural or man-made risks threatening the coastal and riparian zone, flood risks).

The bill also fails to provide necessary safeguards and improve the framework for the immediate removal of illegal buildings along the coastline and removes the ban on the concession of “small coastal areas” (less than 5 meters in length or width, or less than 150 square meters in area). The use of even these small isolated beaches will now be allocated to hotels.

“In times of climate crisis, healthy coastlines are a protective shield for humans and the economy in the face of the more and more frequent disasters. The protection of coastal and marine ecosystems is the most efficient and impactful tool for climate resilience. Unfortunately, in Greece, coastal ecosystems are treated as land for housing and tourist development,” the eight groups said.

“Scientific knowledge and the recent past have shown that the continuous degradation of the coastal zone can only cause dramatic disasters and incalculable costs to the national economy in terms of the compensation that has to paid afterwards.”

The draft legislation is abolishing the already inadequate setback zone of 30 meters from the shoreline, the groups explained. Setback zones of at least 100 meters are required by all signatory countries of the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean, which has been ratified by the European Union but not Greece.

They also called on the government to explicitly ban any individual or business responsible for illegal constructions from the right to apply for state aid and benefit from subsidies and other economic incentives.

The statement is signed by WWF Greece, Greenpeace, MEDASSET, the Society for the Protection of Prespa, Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Callisto, and the Ecological Recycling Society.

The full statement on Greenpeace site in Greek.

The Draft Legislation

The abolition of the minimum width of beach zones that can be commercially exploited, the removal of leasing responsibilities from municipalities, and the level of coastal protection in Natura areas were the focus of most observations by social bodies participating in Wednesday’s House committee discussion of the Finance Ministry’s draft law.

The bill lays down the rules for the demarcation of shores, how they can be leased, and penalties for violators. It introduces new recommendations for the minimum distances between concessions, the maximum area of the beach that can be granted for exploitation, and the protection of untouched beaches.

Regarding the criticism of the abolition of the minimum width (from 30 meters currently), Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) representative Kostas Konstantinidis argued that “if the coastal demarcation committees determine a smaller beach width this should be sufficiently justified,” daily kathimerini reported.

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One comment

  1. Oh dear .
    Just observe Spain to see what could happen .