NEWS

Environmentalists, citizen groups protest coastal development bill

Citizen groups and environmental activists are staging a protest Thursday at 6 p.m. at Syntagma Square against a controversial government bill designed to lift restrictions on construction along the country's coastline.

The demonstration has been organized mainly through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

The government last month essentially froze the bill following vehement protests from across the political spectrum, including objections by its socialist coalition partner PASOK and environmental groups including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The government had issued a statement saying it would “shape its final position” on the bill after local authority and European Parliament elections which took place last month.

As it stands, the bill lifts all existing restrictions on the maximum area designated for beach concessions such as bars, umbrellas and sun loungers while banning the right to unhindered access to the coast for the public.

The proposed measures would also facilitate permanent constructions on beaches for commercial purposes, while allowing businesses to pay fines to legalize unlicensed constructions.

In its defense, the ministry had claimed that the new framework would delineate the Greek coastline and simplify construction in and management of coastal areas.

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