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Birbili permitted construction in Natura protected areas

11 March 2011 / 16:03:42  GRReporter
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The Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Tina Birbili waved a white flag and permitted the construction in protected areas known in Greece as Natura. After four changes to Birbili’s bill on biological wealth its final form proved to defend the interests of construction companies more than to preserve the ecological balance. Natura protected areas do not occupy more than five percent of the total area of ​​the country but it appears that they are located in the most palatable parts of Greece, because Tina Birbili faced very serious resistance and finally retreated from her ambitious plan.

In its original form the bill of Birbili had to prohibit construction in unregulated areas, which in the last thirty years has proved extremely popular. In that public hearing the voice of the parliamentary opposition was not even heard after the most severe critics of the law on preservation of biological wealth, which included the rules for managing the Natura protected areas.
After members of the PASOK parliamentary group had exerted pressure on the minister, she changed the bill and gave permission to the owners of 10 acres to build in protected areas. It did not appeal to the members of the old guard of the Socialist Party either, who as if by “chance” advocated unusually passionately the right of construction in Natura areas. Birbili added a text to the bill, permitting the owners of four acres in Natura areas to construct a building under certain conditions. If the owner of the land, however, has eight or nine acres, he is not entitled to construct two buildings, although in possession of the necessary area.

In her desperation that she can not teach an old dog new tricks, Birbili decided to bring back to life an old law from 1985 which states that all land owners in Natura areas can build if they own four acres, adjacent to highways or suburban roads or near railway lines. This option was also rejected because the opponents of the new law wanted the right to build in each region if the owner has 750 square meters and without meeting any of the above requirements.

In other words, the formation of Natura protected areas is meaningless, and the ambitions of the government to establish a modern law that will put an order in the chaotic construction in unregulated areas are not understood. In the end, the law is adopted and permits construction if the owner has four acres without stipulating any other limiting requirements. When the property is 10 acres, construction is permitted if 25 sq. m of the yard are not built up and there is an outlet on a public road.  

"If I were the Minister of Environment, I would volunteer to quit the government," said for Sky TV New Democracy’s ecology expert Kyriakos Mitsotakis in connection with Tina Birbili’s surrender. His words show that eco-advocates are deeply disappointed with Birbili’s concessions because the young Mitsotakis has repeatedly stated publicly that he supports and sympathizes with Birbili and that they are good friends. He didn’t support the 10 acres regulation and according to him, the legal framework of this law must be tightened over time.

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