Coastal bill to be diluted

The coalition has decided to water down a controversial bill on the use of coastal land and avoid a confrontation with opposition parties, it emerged on Wednesday.

Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis indicated that the new coastal bill would focus on introducing rules needed to clearly define the shoreline. “The only goal of the necessary regulations should be the creation of a modern tool to delineate the coastline... throughout the country in a short period of time,” he said.

The government withdrew the bill earlier this year after environmental groups and thousands of citizens criticized its content and signed petitions to prevent it passing through Parliament. The original legislation foresaw the relaxation of restrictions on construction and commercial activity next to the sea.

Following a period of consultation within the the government, it was decided to pare the would-be legislation down to its bare essentials. The coalition was also driven by the fact that the only part of the bill that was part of its pledges to the troika was to create clearer legislation for the delineation of the Greek coast in order to better protect public property. At the moment, only around 10 percent of Greece’s coastline has been clearly defined and protected from certain activities.

The coalition also feared that it would face a protracted battle with SYRIZA and other opposition parties who criticized the original draft law. SYRIZA recently reached out to environmental groups and others in a bid to create a united front against the bill.

The final content of the new bill will be finalized over the next few days during talks between Maniatis, PASOK officials and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s office. It has not yet been decided if it will be tagged onto the forestry bill, which is currently being examined by a parliamentary committee, or a multi-bill that is due to be submitted to the House in the next few days.