NEWS

Loopholes in new Hymettus law

Volunteers planted more than 40,000 trees in the Aixoni area of Glyfada, on the foothills of Mount Hymettus, yesterday, as sources said that a new draft law supposedly aimed at putting an end to illegal construction on the mountain has as many loopholes as previous legislation. In an event organized by Skai TV and radio, hundreds of volunteers took to the slopes of Hymettus to plant 42,000 trees in an area of southern Athens that has been targeted by arsonists in the past. However, sources said that copies of a presidential decree which is supposed to prevent developers from moving in on areas like Aixoni suggest that forested land will continue to be under threat. Details of the draft law were handed last week to officials at municipalities that border Mount Hymettus and, according to sources, it still allows construction in the mountain’s most highly protected zone, known as A1. Last year the government said that it would abolish the two-tier system of protection established by the 1978 decree and create a new zone where any kind of building is strictly forbidden. The new presidential decree, however, still allows snack bars to be built in zone A1. The only difference is that they will not be able to be bigger than 100 square meters, rather than 150. Similar construction is also allowed in zone A2 of the mountain, which covers its southeastern part. In zone B1, the new draft law will allow the construction of hospitals, schools or colleges and sports and cultural centers. No hospitals or education centers will be allowed in zones B2 and B3 but construction of the other types of buildings can go ahead. The new presidential decree also proposes the legalization of some homes and businesses built on protected land. «The idea of A and B zones in the 1978 decree has proven to be a failure,» deputy rector of the National Technical University of Athens, Yiannis Polyzos told Kathimerini. «What the new law should make clear is that there is no more room for construction on Hymettus, not even for things such as hospitals, that the city needs. We cannot afford to lose more greenery.»