Greece’s privatization agency, TAIPED, is scrambling to keep a major privatization project afloat following a decision by the Piraeus forestry authority to declare as woodland a section of the old Athens airport plot at Elliniko, which was conceded to a consortium of Greek, Chinese and Arab investors last year.
The hiccup is the latest in a series of obstacles to the development of the plot, whose implementation has already been delayed for years.
Last week Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou sent a letter to her ministry’s Central Council for Modern Monuments, asking it to declare three structures on the Elliniko site as listed buildings and therefore protected.
The latest upset came late Thursday, when the Piraeus forestry authority deemed that a 3.7-hectare portion of the Elliniko plot is woodland and as such cannot be built on. The area in question is a small piece of the total plot, which covers a total of 620 hectares, but sources have indicated that it is in a critical location and could cause serious operational problems for developers if it remains protected.
The portion of land is located in the coastal area of Aghios Cosmas, where developers are believed to be planning to build holiday homes, a luxury hotel, casino and shops.
Amid fears that the development could prompt the consortium, Lamda Development, to pull out of the 915-million-euro deal, TAIPED and Elliniko AE are planning to lodge an appeal against the Piraeus forestry authority’s decision, sources indicated yesterday.
An objection is expected to be lodged with the relevant authority in the coming days but, according to sources, it will likely be discussed in two or three months from now with a decision expected to require an additional two or three months.
There had been no public response to the new upset by Lamda Development by late Friday.
The Elliniko project is one of the few privatizations to have been carried out in Greece despite consistent pressure from the country’s creditors for authorities to sell and lease state assets and raise much-needed revenue.
Lamda Development said last year that the project would create 70,000 jobs and boost Greece’s gross domestic product by 2 percent, bringing in 10 billion euros in revenue over 25 years.