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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-19

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Land register, climate change top prioritie

  • [01] Land register, climate change top prioritie

    Speeding up completion of the land register -- still absent in EU member-state Greece -- policies vis-a-vis climate change as well as a series of major highway projects will top the agenda at the environment, town planning and public works ministry over the next four years, returning minister George Souflias said on Wednesday.

    Returning to the ministry at the head of the same team of deputy ministers after he was sworn in, the veteran politician repeated his objections to establishing a separate ministry for the environment. According to Souflias, the present arrangement provided for more effective protection for the environment.

    Outlining his intentions with respect to spatial planning, the minister said he intended to introduce new legislation for a General Spatial Plan, as well as specialised plans based on this framework, and to draw up regional spatial plans for fire-stricken regions as a priority.

    Regarding the land register, he said the goal was to cover two thirds of all rights by 2010 while at the same time making progress on a forestry register.

    In response to questions about Article 24 of the Constitution regarding the protection of forests, Souflias said he did not want the essence of this article to change but insisted that Greece's land and forestry registers could not be based on the aerial photographs taken in 1945. According to the minister, the country could not move forward unless it accepted reality, namely, that the present conditions in the Greek countryside were essentially created at end of the '60s.

    Another priority was to change legislation regarding building permits, he added.

    On measures for the environment, Souflias said he would focus on measures concerning climate change and the management of water resources as well as on absorbing some 4.3 billion euros in European Union funds available for environmental issues.

    The minister also stressed that there was a "massive" public works agenda to build new infrastructure like roads and ports, with top priority given to the "Development Highways" programme and completion of the Egnatia Highway in 2008.

    Asked about an announcement about the sale of public land in the fire-ravaged Zaharo municipality for development, Souflias said he could not intervene in the decision made by the Public Real Estate Co., which was attached to the finance ministry.

    "My job is limited to ensuring that environmental rules are respected, and I now declare that I will not allow town planning laws to be flouted in the development of the region," Souflias underlined.

    Caption: A file photo of Public Works, Town Planning and Environment Minister George Souflias. ANA-MPA / ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

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