Tree row moves to Parliament

A dispute over the felling of at least 40 trees in a central Athens park by municipal officials planning a car park moved to Parliament yesterday when Anna Filini, an MP of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), tabled a question to the government regarding the implications of the move. In their ongoing efforts to save the trees this week, local residents around Amerikis Square have clashed with riot police deployed to protect municipal workers clearing the planned site for an underground parking facility. In the question submitted to Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Filini asks to be informed what measures the government intends to take to protect areas of urban greenery and how a new park will be created in the vicinity of Amerikis Square. Visiting the park yesterday, Filini described the tree felling as an «ecological crime.» Defiant local residents remained in the park area yesterday, stating they would under no circumstances allow the construction of the parking facility. A statement issued by City Hall yesterday rebuffed allegations of «thug tactics» being used against residents protesting the car park plans. It added that the project was crucial for the district of Kypseli «which faces a parking problem.» Municipal officials have said that the area, one of the most densely populated in the capital, needs at least two more car parks. Locals counter that there are already six car parks nearby. Deputy Mayor Polychronis Akritidis has said that 150 trees will be planted over the underground parking station when it is complete. On Tuesday Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis told Skai that only three trees had been cut down – not 45 as residents have claimed – and another 40 taken away to be replanted elsewhere.

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