Greece has a national zoning plan, at last

As the saying goes, usually in reference to the populist press, no news is good news. Unfortunately, this occasionally applies to even important news, to developments with a long-term beneficial impact on the economy, such as the completion of studies for the country’s zoning plans. The studies, recently delivered to the Environment and Public Works Ministry, concern the national zoning plan as well as special zoning plans for industry, tourism, renewable energy sources and mountain areas. A public consultation process with other ministries and interested parties is being prepared for next month. As has often been pointed out here, the absence of zoning plans has been the main reason behind the cancellation of large investment schemes – both domestic and foreign – and for generally making Greece unattractive for investment. So, congratulations are due to the responsible minister (of public works), Giorgos Souflias, for this achievement, even though by the time of their application, the zoning plans will have been put in place three whole years after the present government assumed office, in the spring of 2004. Their application will enable investors to plan and proceed with their schemes without fearing that a ruling by the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court, will overturn them. In effect, the zoning plans will be basic instruments for the rational economic and housing development of the country, as well as for protection of the environment. Readers may recall that several large investment projects were blocked by red tape for several years, mainly on the grounds that studies into the environmental effects were inadequate. One of them, the large golf course by Mr Constantakopoulos in Messinia, is thankfully now being implemented after the ministry has at last found a solution. Another, by Japanese entrepreneurs in wind power in Laconia, is now in the process of being licensed. The preliminary environmental study has been approved and it looks as though the project will be under way soon. Finally, the biggest foreign investment in Greece, a hotel complex in Toplu, Crete, seems to have overcome all hurdles and is likely to be implemented soon.

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