The Ministry of Environment is withdrawing the articles on Natura sites and special environmental studies, as well as two regulations on the boundaries of traditional settlements and the “recognition” of roads from its multi-bill which is being put to a vote on Tuesday.

Moreover, a number of new amendments were added, including the suspension of building permits in areas outside town planning on the popular tourist island of Mykonos until the end of the year.

According to government sources, the withdrawal of these articles – as well as the suspension of building permits on Mykonos – was made after an intervention by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Regarding Mykonos, exceptions are the issuance of small-scale permits, projects under the Special Spatial Development Plan of Strategic Investments (ESCHASE) and the revision of building permits (but without a building coefficient increase).

The explanatory memorandum states that the suspension is due to the preparation of a special urban plan on the island.

Critics say that would make sense if a similar argument applied to Santorini and Elafonisos, where urban plans are also being drafted. 

As for the articles that were withdrawn, these include the ones that abolished the obligation for special environmental studies to result in the definition of land use.

According to the explanatory memorandum, this was “decoupling protection zones from the general uses of urban planning.”

Also removed was the article that stipulated existing activities remain as they are and those that have been licensed can be implemented, regardless of whether they impact the integrity of the protected area.

The ones that allowed the zones into which a protected area (e.g. absolute protection, nature protection) would be divided into “sub-zones” were also removed.

The same fate befell those that required the authors of special environmental studies to take into account existing activities, the serving of functions that are inextricably linked to the urban or residential character of areas, specific spatial contexts, as well as “economic, social and cultural requirements, and regional and local specificities.”

All these factors are not related to the protection of species and habitats.