Church given nod for huge building in forest

Granting the powerful Church of Greece a significant boon, the government yesterday tabled an amendment in Parliament that will allow the construction of a vast Church conference center within one of the few remaining forests on the outskirts of Athens. The bill will let the Church build up to 67,000 square meters on a 2.7-hectare plot within the forest at Aghios Ioannis Kareas, on the slopes of Mt Hymettus on the capital’s eastern edge. The building, which will host sessions of the Church’s ruling body – the Holy Synod – as well as religious conferences and cultural activities, will have a maximum height of 8 meters. The government has repeatedly pledged to crack down on illegal construction, especially buildings in forests, on beaches or archaeological sites. At the same time, it has frozen fines on owners of illegal buildings in forests.