Bill on illegal structures threatens Greek coastlines

Bill on illegal structures threatens Greek coastlines

Greek beaches and shores could be set on a path of no return if Parliament approves a draft bill to be submitted soon by the Finance Ministry, which will pave the way for the legalization of seaside structures. 

Even though the bill purports to rid the country’s shores of the huge illegal constructions by large tourism industry enterprises and energy companies, it falls short of the commitment made last year by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to unequivocally demolish all of them. 

The draft bill was presented to ruling SYRIZA’s parliamentary group a few days ago. 

Critics says its provisions are far more lenient compared to a bill drafted in 2014 regarding illegal seaside constructions that was, however, withdrawn after a public outcry over its perceived laxness toward building violations. 

More specifically, the new bill’s provisions stipulate the legalization of structures built before July 28 2011 – belonging to businesses that have benefited from growth and development laws and are contracted to the public sector, the National Tourism Organization (EOT) or a local authority. 

Given the ease with which these seaside enterprises can receive state subsidies, this could also eventually lead to the legalization of the overwhelming majority of constructions. 

And all it will take for the legalization of such structures by the sea (including river and lake shores) is a ministerial decision. 

What’s more, the bill states the minister in question will also consult with the Environment Ministry before a decision is made. 

However, critics have denounced this provision as bizarre, given the fact that the Environment Ministry will be asked to make a recommendation on a construction that is already illegal. 

Moreover, the bill also allows for the legalization of certain structures that were built after July 2011 – these concern those built to serve the purposes of the Defense Ministry and security, as well as others designated as of national significance. 

It also refers to structures that are part of the international, national and rural road networks.

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