The coastal development bill submitted to parliament by the Greek Finance Ministry has received international condemnation.
The bill for the “definition, management and protection of beaches and shorelines,” lifts all current restrictions on the maximum area designated for beach concessions such as bars, umbrellas and sun beds, while abolishing the right to unhindered access to the coast for the public. It would also facilitate permanent constructions on beaches for commercial purposes, and will make it possible for businesses to pay fines in order to legalize their unlicensed constructions.
According to the ministry, the new provisions will delineate the Greek coastline and simplify the construction on and the management of coastal areas. The public consultation on the bill has been extended to May 13.
However, the new bill has caused major controversies among the Greek parties and the citizens and has been condemned by leading environmental organizations and pressure groups worldwide.
According to the protesters, the bill will legitimize illegal businesses on the Greek coasts and will allow private businesses to fill beaches with umbrellas and sun beds without taking into account the bathers who don’t wish to pay to use the beach. International pressure groups and organizations have been using social media such as Facebook and Twitter and the #savegreekcoast and #aigialosSOS hashtags to protest against the new coastal provisions and raise worldwide awareness on the issue. Moreover, awareness campaigns concerning the bill have also been launched on the Avaaz and change.org websites.
The Ministry of Finance responded to international criticism assuring that the environmental protection of the Greek coastline will remain among the Environment Ministry’s top priorities, while disputing the alleged future privatization of the Greek shoreline.
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