NEWS

New ministry open to eco-ideas

A group of 10 environmental groups has presented Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili with a proposal for a comprehensive institutional framework for protecting Greece’s biodiversity. After a meeting yesterday with WWF Hellas director Dimitris Karavellas, who presented the plan to the minister, Birbili said their meeting had been symbolic of the ministry’s willingness to open up to nongovernmental organizations. «This is a specific proposal for legislation which we will study carefully,» said Birbili. «We will soon be announcing draft legislation on this issue.» «The time has finally arrived for Greece to have a serious policy,» said Karavellas, adding that the minister was willing to listen and to consider various issues. The plan focuses on updating the system for protected areas, clarifying the status of Natura 2000 areas, the abolition of construction outside town plans, more stringent measures for protecting threatened species of flora and fauna, and protecting the country’s biological wealth against the spread of genetically modified organisms. Meanwhile, the first comments from the public about the government’s decision to swap all the cars allocated to public bodies with less-polluting hybrid vehicles were posted online yesterday. The new government has set up a website (www.opengov.gr) to allow the public to comment on its policy proposals and several dozen voters had expressed their opinions on the draft law on hybrid cars by last night. Most of those posting messages were in favor of the bill.