Council of State freezes HELPE’s plan for independent power unit

The Council of State has ordered a temporary suspension of work on the extension and modernization of Hellenic Petroleum’s (HELPE) refining facilities in Kalohori, outside Thessaloniki, until it hears the case of six local municipal authorities which have filed against the project. The six municipalities, Kordelio, Ehedoro, Evosmos, Menemeni, Oraiokastro and Kallithea asked the country’s highest administrative court to suspend the license granted to HELPE (later transferred to its subsidiary Thessaloniki Energy) to install a steam turbine for the production of electricity, with a capacity of 5.5 megawatts. The Suspensions Section of the Council of State ruled that as regards the particular project, the law allows the responsible public agencies not to follow the usual procedure for approving an environmental effects study, provided that their decisions are thoroughly argued and reasoned, and are based on specific criteria such as the size of the project, pollution and accident hazards, and the technology that will be used. Furthermore, it decided that the relevant decision granting the license was not thoroughly argued and the reasons cited by the six municipalities were evidently sound. HELPE’s project is one of the first two planned major power-producing facilities independent of the Public Power Corporation.