June 12, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Greece: Bill that effectively eliminates protected areas sparks outrage

The NΑTURA 2000 draft law on new rules for sites, submitted for public discussion by the Ministry of the Environment, excited scientific authorities, environmental organizations and citizens.

Protesters say the bill removes existing protections and allows for human intervention in protected and vulnerable ecosystems.

The proposed legislation allows for the opening of roads, the construction of power transmission networks, the installation of renewable energy sources (RES/wind farms), the accommodation of up to 150 tourists, parking spaces, sporting events and even mining, fishing and grazing in protected areas and sensitive ecosystems.

The law cuts most restrictions on the protected habitat area, as if it were not an important part of the ecosystem.

Indicative of the outrage is that of the 850 comments submitted in the first few days of consultations, almost all were negative and called for the bill to be withdrawn. cathimerini.

Natura territories occupy 28.5% of the country’s territory, while, according to ELSTAT470,000 permanent residents live in these territories.

With a 97-article bill and just one week of public comment, the Ministry of the Environment is embarking on a further “dismantling” of environmental legislation in NATURA 2000 protected areas.

At the same time, it gives the green light to “environmental auditors” who must be paid directly by those being audited, and helps to reduce fines (luxury feeder, isn’t it?).


Map existing and new NATURA facilities throughout Greece


In mid-June, when the bill was published, environmental groups spoke of a “mockery” of accelerated discussion of the bill and sent a joint letter to Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas asking for an extension of public consultations.

The ministry argues that “the current structure of permitted use in protected areas particularly limits the real needs of each area and the effective protection of each site.”

“However, the Natura territories in our country have never suffered from overprotection, as evidenced by the condemnation of Greece by the European Court of Justice for our country’s failure to set goals and implement management measures”Kathimerini noted, recalling that “recently a new appeal to the European Court of Justice was added to the country’s record for improperly transposing a directive on assessing the effects of projects in protected areas, and, according to reliable information, more will soon follow.”

97 articles that carry sheer horror

In a lengthy article ethnos a week ago, all the most important provisions of the bill were listed, which will effectively reduce the protection of protected objects NATURA 2000.

In accordance with the provisions of the proposed draft law on the permitted use of land in the areas of protected areas of the Natura 2000 network in areas defined as areas of absolute nature protection, i.e. the core of protected areas, among others are also allowed:

highways, light traffic roads, footpaths, bicycle paths, squares, footpaths and sea corridors, free grazing and recreational fishing.


In addition, it is allowed to place stations for water supply, storage and transmission of electricity, telecommunications, measurement of air pollution, noise and meteorological parameters, with the necessary equipment and related facilities, ground or underground.

A richer “bouquet” of activities will be allowed in the territories designated as nature protection zones, which are also given the opportunity for tourism activities, a great opportunity for the installation of renewable energy projects. In general, it will be possible to place on NATURA sites:

  • Cafes and restaurants disguised as buffets.
  • Tourist accommodation facilities, objects of special tourist infrastructure and other enterprises of moderate development, if they functionally serve one or more types of thematic tourism.
  • Outdoor parking area only.
  • Mining operations are carried out underground, provided that the entrance to the underground working is outside the nature protection zone and the absolute nature protection zone.
  • Means of public transport with specialization in subcategories.
  • Water supply facilities, with the exception of desalination, facilities for the storage and transmission of electricity and natural gas, telecommunications, electric vehicle charging stations, stations for measuring air pollution, noise and meteorological parameters with the necessary equipment and associated facilities, above ground or underground.
  • Installations of renewable energy sources (RES).
  • Camps are places for children’s holidays.
  • Floating infrastructure and marine recreation centers.
  • Mountain cabins, rock climbing, horseback riding, caving, rafting, paragliding or hang gliding are also allowed.

The restriction that roads are intended solely for the “servicing of the guard and the optimal management of the protected object” is removed.

In areas designated as habitat and species conservation areas, restrictions are lifted for tourist sites (up to 150 sites) and businesses, as well as for extractive activities (mining, quarrying, hydrocarbon exploration), for telecommunications antenna parks, radio and television.

The provisions allowing use only in plan areas are removed and “power generation facilities” are added, with the exception of “electricity generation facilities from fossil fuels”.

The ban on the construction of residential buildings has also been lifted!!! (It seems to me that it was precisely for this reason that this project was adopted. What kind of money can be raised on the construction of villas in nature reserves?).

Meanwhile forest of Dadia National Park in Evros on Northeast Greece is on fire for the third day in a row. Old-growth pine forests and a protected area of ​​485 sq. km are one of the most unique ecosystems in the world.

PS For some strange reason, this government, which seeks to destroy everything in the name of promoting tourism and exploiting nature, seems to believe that these “unprotected” places will continue to retain their NATURA 2000 status.

Fact: This government does not care about nature and citizens. And there is only one goal – to earn more money. And what can you now “earn” better than building permits in nature protection zones?

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