Environment Ministry to reconsider controversial bill

The government over the weekend appeared to backpedal on proposed amendments widely seen as compromising legislation protecting Greek forests as well as Plaka, Athens’s old quarter.

The bill, brought to Parliament under an emergency procedure, facilitated the declassification of forests and woodlands, even within protected areas. Furthermore, the bill deemed that regeneration efforts on forestland that failed to bear fruit within five years can be terminated.

The proposed measures, which were slammed by WWF Greece and other environmental groups, was also met with skepticism from some conservative politicians, including Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Ministry officials were reportedly also re-examining proposed changes to protective zoning laws regarding the old Athens quarter of Plaka. The Environment Ministry came under fire for allegedly opening the door to commercial development in the architectural showpiece at the foot of the Acropolis.

The bill was criticized by conservation groups as well as Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, who said the municipal authority had not been consulted on the plans.

A vote on the bill had been scheduled in Parliament for this week.