NEWS

Government, opposition clash over environment bill

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The conservative government and the opposition clashed in Parliament Tuesday over a contentious bill introduced by the Environment Ministry that seeks to modernize the country’s environmental legislation.

The government has said that the bill, which went under public consultation for 13 days, is designed to solve chronic environmental law problems by simplifying licensing procedures and ending years of inconvenience for Greek citizens. It foresees changes to regulations regarding land uses, environmental licensing and the management of protected areas.

Speaking in Parliament Tuesday, Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said the proposed measures will help Greece attract investment necessary to overcome the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Opposition lawmakers accused the New Democracy administration of fast-tracking regulations in the midst of the coronavirus crisis in order to accommodate business interests and called upon the government to withdraw the bill.

Critics say that the bill which was submitted for public consultation contained 82 articles. However, the bill that was presented up for discussion before Parliament contained 130 articles.

More than 80 environmental conservation groups have signed a petition asking for the bill to be withdrawn.

The proposed legislation will be put to a vote in Parliament on Tuesday.