New bill favors mining industry

A draft law which gives mining companies legal dominance at the expense of other businesses in areas where there are quarries is being prepared by the Development Ministry and could meet with fierce opposition from other government departments, Sunday’s Kathimerini has learned. The bill proposes that in places where there are a cluster of quarries, the areas can be zoned off and other types of commercial activity will not be allowed, sources said. Controversially, the draft law also suggests that people who own land in these zones should not be allowed to use it freely. According to sources, officials at several other ministries fear that the amendment could be seen as pandering to mining firms in Attica and a company which mines baryte on the Cycladic island of Milos. There is concern that huge quarry sites could appear around Attica, particularly on Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, which is already being mined heavily for its marble. Sources said that if it passes into law, the bill could also have an effect on tourism, as much of the natural beauty of Milos will be lost if the mining company expands its business. Quarries have proved a controversial subject lately as there is increasing anger in eastern Attica due to the refusal of two mining companies to shut down their operations near Markopoulo even though a court has ruled the sites illegal.