National zoning plan gets go-ahead from the Cabinet

As the government unveiled the country’s first national zoning plan yesterday, protesters in Kavala, northern Greece held the biggest demonstration seen in the city in 25 years to demand the shelving of plans to construct a new coal-powered energy plant in the area. More than 12,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Kavala to demand the cancellation of a Public Power Corporation (PPC) plan to build a lignite plant in Nea Karvali, east of the city. «The lignite has managed to draw everyone out of their houses. It was a protest that sent a clear message to PPC and the Development Ministry,» said Sissy Akokalidou, representative of the residents who took part in the march. PPC plans to build six new coal-powered plants across Greece to help meet the country’s growing power appetite. Two plants are likely to be built in cooperation with Germany’s RWE and Greek steelmaker Halyvourgiki. Kavala Mayor Costis Simitsis said the area should not be the dumping ground of the Balkans and accused PPC of moving ahead with plans without the permission of the state. «There are no national or prefectural boundaries when it comes to pollution,» he said. According to local officials, the construction of the energy unit in the area violates local zoning regulations – which the government is revising on a national level. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis gave the green light yesterday to the government’s new national zoning plan that will soon be tabled in Parliament. The final version of the zoning plan has been watered down from the original draft, dropping limitations on construction activity outside of town-planning districts. Unregulated construction activity outside town-planning areas is often responsible for illegally built homes eating into the country’s shrinking forest areas on city limits. However, Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias said the government is working on putting together a national forest registry in a procedure expected to take four years.