A boost for power to demolish

Demolish first and ask questions later – that was the message from Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday as he unveiled plans to crack down on any illegal construction in reforested areas, although there are concerns that some land-grabbers may escape punishment. The amendment to the existing law on illegal building was table in Parliament yesterday and foresees the banning of any building in areas that are slated for replanting following wildfires. However, the proposed law does not deal with existing illegal homes that have been built in forested areas. In a bid to break with the legal obstacles of the past, the amendment proposes that a three-member regional committee will survey their areas and, with the help of the forestry service, police and the relevant prefecture will have the power to immediately knock down any buildings it deems to be illegal. The building owners will not have the right to appeal and stop the demolition, as is currently the case, but will be able to go to court afterward and seek compensation if there has been a mistake.