Anger at army homes in forest

The head of an organization set up for the protection of Mount Hymettus, east of Athens, is reportedly planning legal action against a decision by the Defense Ministry to authorize the construction of 36 maisonettes for army officers on the site of an old military unit within a zone on the mountain where building is forbidden. Nikos Hardalias, who is also the mayor of Vyronas, is said to be planning the action after failing to receive a response to two appeals lodged with a prosecutor, according to sources. «All attempts by the organization to take out an injunction were fruitless,» Hardalias told Kathimerini. According to Hardalias, the construction of the maisonettes on a plot of some 2,000 square meters has been launched without a license, as licenses are not issued by forestry authorities in the protected area. It appears that the ministry has taken advantage of the restrictions of access that apply to military areas in order to renovate the old building on the 1,000-square-meter site and start construction of the maisonettes on an area covering another 1,000 square meters. In a statement issued yesterday, the organization’s executive committee condemned the project as «an insult to the hundreds of volunteer firefighters who struggle every day to protect the forest» and appealed to authorities to stop construction immediately and declare Mount Hymettus a national park. Meanwhile, Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias announced that a ban on construction in the mountain’s Zone B had been renewed but did not comment on the Defense Ministry’s current project in the area.