Building in forests alarms ministry

As illegal construction on forestland continues to spread across the country, the Agricultural Development Ministry called on the Public Works and Environment Ministry to do more to block unlawful building activity, in a document seen by Kathimerini yesterday. The memo, sent on Monday, asks that town planning services – regulated by the Environment Ministry – enforce regulations as dictated by the law. «Due to the lack of monitoring of construction activity, forestland is changing and services that have been appointed the task of protecting these areas cannot, under many circumstances, perform their duties,» the memo read. Town planning offices are perceived as ranking among the government’s most corrupt services. According to a Public Administration Inspection Agency’s report made public on Monday, a large number of the corruption cases detected last year were in town planning offices. The Agriculture Ministry also accused town planning services of ignoring court decisions forbidding construction activity in certain areas. It also claimed that the Environment Ministry has approved the building of homes in areas cleared by forest fires but protected by legislation. On Monday the government submitted to Parliament a bill providing for the setting up of a national land register that will cost landowners more than a billion euros. The land registry does not cover forests.