Commission calls Greece to task on national zoning plan

A bill tabled in Parliament on Greece’s national zoning plan without a survey of its environmental repercussions could be contrary to European legislation, it was pointed out at a recent turbulent session of the National Zoning Council, although the experts’ observations were not heeded. Greece has now been called up before the European Commission’s General Secretariat for the Environment to explain the situation within a month and half, or face possible charges at the European Court of Justice. According to a document sent on March 18 to Greece’s permanent representative to the EU by the Secretariat, Greece must inform the Commission within six weeks as to whether it has ordered a survey of the plan’s environmental effects. This week the problem was raised by Greek Bar Association. «The national zoning plan was tabled in Parliament without any real negotiations taking place, and no real exchange of views with interested parties,» The bar association said in a statement, warning that fines could be imposed and, moreover, if the plan were canceled, it would affect all the special zoning plans. Although the lack of an environmental repercussions report, whether in the form of a strategic study or an ordinary survey, had been pointed out at the National Zoning Council, the Environment and Public Works Ministry had claimed that a strategic study was not necessary. Meanwhile, at a recent conference on the zoning plan and its implementation in Attica held by local government agencies (TEDKNA) this week, attention was drawn to the need to carefully expand areas in the plan referring to the unrestricted spread of the built-up environment in Attica and to give particular emphasis to reforestation. It called for a new model of tourism development for Attica. TEDKNA called for an immediate review of the Athens zoning framework, with priority given to protecting natural resources and open spaces and the improvement of public transport. «The mountain ranges protected in the previous zoning framework have not been reforested and are where Athenians go to get fresh air; the seafront has not been unified but on the contrary has been privatized,» said TEDKNA’s president, Dimitris Kalogeroupoulos.

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