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NGOs urge Greece to scrap coastline reform: statement

By AFP

February 22, 2024 11:18 PM


 

WWF, Greenpeace and six other environmental NGOs called on Greece on Thursday to withdraw a bill that will remove a coastal protection zone designed to limit seaside construction.

The finance ministry's bill, which is being debated in parliament, "is abolishing the already inadequate setback zone of 30 meters (about 100 feet) from the shoreline," the group of NGOs said in a joint statement.

"Unfortunately, in Greece, coastal ecosystems are treated as land for housing and tourist development," the statement added.

"The bill also fails to provide necessary safeguards and improve the framework for the immediate removal of illegal buildings along the coastline," it said, citing a recurring problem in the country known for its beaches.

The text of the conservative government's bill, which will be put to a vote soon, states that it aims to "improve the management of the coastal regions" and will be "beneficial for the national economy and protection of the environment."

But George Hasiotis, a lawyer with the WWF, told AFP: "The lack of any criteria for the definition of a coastline, such as a minimum exploitation threshold, does not guarantee environmental protection."

The NGOs are calling for Greece to ratify the EU protocol on "Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean" which sets a minimum protection zone of 100 metres (about 330 feet).

The NGOs also complained that "crucial provisions related to climate change adaptation are missing" from the bill, which they said makes "no reference to other natural or man-made risks" to coastal zones.

Illegal construction is rampant in Greece where the building industry is one of the main sectors of the economy.

In 2020, the European Court of Justice judged that Greece had violated its obligations under EU law for not protecting some of its vulnerable ecosystems.


AFP


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