Bureaucracy and local interests hold up wind parks

Bureaucracy, this time at a regional level, is blocking the implementation of four investments in the energy field, worth almost 110 million euros. The four projects, which provide for the exploitation of wind to produce energy, are all in the Sterea Ellada (Central Greece) region, three of them in the prefecture of Viotia and one in the prefecture of Fthiotida. All of them will be carried out by Terna Energy, as soon as they get the go-ahead. The missing element that has been delaying materialization of the investments is the signature of the general secretary of the Sterea Ellada region. Three of the projects have been awaiting a signature since August 2002 and the other since November 2002. Approval has been held up by local residents, who oppose the creation of the wind parks, rows of windmill-like generators of electricity. There also seems to be hostility to a project to be run by a privately owned firm. The government, belatedly, has been forced to act. The general secretary in question, Yiannis Dimou, appointed in April 2002, was recently sacked and replaced by Stelios Patramanis. The new general secretary, along with several top officials from the ministries of Economy and Finance, Development, the Environment and Public Works, Agriculture and Culture, which together make up the state Investments Commission, will meet today to speed up the particular project and try to come up with a blueprint for faster decisions. Specifically, three of the wind parks are to be built in the municipality of Dervenohoria in Viotia, at a cost of 93.8 million euros. The investment has been partly subsidized through the European Union’s Third Community Support Framework (CSF III). The fourth park will be built at Aghios Georgios in the Fthiotida prefecture and will cost 15.48 million euros. The government is anxious to have the projects carried out, not only to open up the electricity production market to the private sector, but also to avoid giving the impression it is dragging its feet over encouraging domestic and foreign direct investment. Such is the government’s anxiety that in the draft law, which provides incentives for investment, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis has followed the example of Ireland, which until recently was condemned by Greece’s Socialist government for its «neoliberal» policies.