Zoning plan open to suggestions

Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday that a controversial land-zoning plan, drafted by his ministry, was open to «positive proposals» but accused opposition parties of offering only pointless criticism rather than constructive advice during the first day of a parliamentary debate on the issue. «The land-zoning plan is a good document which can be improved on,» Souflias told the members of Parliament’s economic and environmental committees in a move Kathimerini had anticipated earlier this week. But the minister stressed he would only accept «constructive criticism,» accusing some MPs of being «confrontational.» The main opposition PASOK party as well as the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party (KKE) have called for the plan to be withdrawn. There were several moments of tension (early in the debate as most of the MPs left the discussion well before it ended). PASOK’s Yiannis Maniatis clashed with Souflias after accusing the government of pandering to «vested interests» with a separate zoning plan that aims to boost tourism infrastructure. «We do not serve any interests – do not speak out of line,» the minister retorted. Referring specifically to the zoning plan for tourism, Souflias said it lays down «extremely strict regulations» that would prevent the type of excessive construction along coastlines that have marred Spanish resorts. «We have no intention of implementing the Spanish model,» Souflias said. «The Spaniards themselves have seen what a big mistake they made and are planning demolition,» he added. One of the main objections raised by SYRIZA was that the overall zoning plan has not been amended to include several observations made by scientists who have examined it. «We want a land-zoning plan that will prevent the various interest groups from exploiting the anarchic situation currently prevailing in Greece,» said SYRIZA spokeswoman Eleni Filini.