Eco-groups appeal plan

Ten environmental organizations have added their voices to those of opposition deputies who have called for the withdrawal of a controversial land-zoning bill that opened for debate in Parliament this week. The groups, which include the Greek branches of Greenpeace and the WWF, Arcturos, the Hellenic Society for the Environment and Culture and the Hellenic Ornithological Society, express their «surprise… that agencies which have submitted expert arguments regarding the… plan have been excluded from the ‘dialogue’… therefore (we) appeal to all Greek deputies to vote against the bill,» in a statement issued yesterday. Among other problems, they say the bill is in violation of European Union Directive 2001/42/EU because it is not accompanied by a strategic environmental assessment study. They claim it also ignores other basic EU policies, is unrealistic and is «pervaded by the construction and development models of the 1960s.» «It ignores climatic change and the need to adapt the economy and natural ecosystems to the new conditions,» said the statement, «and also ignores the special development needs of the islands, undermining their prospects for freeing themselves from dependency on Athens and Thessaloniki.» Above all, the statement concludes, the plan ignores the natural environment to an outrageous degree. The 10 groups ask the Environment and Public Works Ministry to withdraw the bill and set in motion a new process for drafting a scientifically based national land-zoning plan through open