Acheloos diversion on hold until 2011

The controversial diversion of Greece’s second-longest river, the Acheloos, from western Greece to the heavily farmed Plain of Thessaly, will be held up for up to two years after Greek judges referred the case to the European Court of Justice, sources said yesterday. It emerged that the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, sent a series of questions to Luxembourg on Friday to ask whether the large public works project complies with European Union environmental rules. Several environmental groups and residents of western Greece are opposed to the diversion, which they say would be an ecological disaster. The previous New Democracy government backed the projected but in the recent election campaign, PASOK adopted an equivocal stance. Sources said it usually takes the European Court nearly two years to respond to preliminary judicial questions.