Protected areas and fossil gas at the public hearing in the Parliament

The Green Tank represented by Ioli Christopoulou participated in the public in the Standing Committee on Production and Trade of the Hellenic Parliament on the bill “Provisions for the simplification of environmental licensing, establishing a framework for the development of Offshore Wind Farms, addressing the energy crisis, environmental protection and other provisions”.

Her comments focused on two provisions of the draft law. Firstly, on protected areas (Articles 11-13), she acknowledged that some comments submitted during the consultation had been taken into account, namely the potentially permitted uses proposed in the two strictest protection zones were reduced and the ban on hunting and professional fishing in wildlife refuges was reintroduced as the minimum horizontal measure in this category of protected areas. As a result, especially for the zones of absolute protection, problems that had been created already since 2020 are remedied.

However, in all other zones, new uses are added or uses incompatible with the concept of protected areas are maintained in a clear deterioration of the already problematic existing institutional framework. These distortions are caused because the bill keeps the approach introduced by Law 4685/2020 of listing potentially permitted land uses for each protection zone. This approach has led to deadlocks as it is practically impossible to predict in advance all the uses for each protected area in the country. Thus, instead of correcting the problem at its root by revising the approach, the bill preserves it risking the integrity of the design of protected areas and ultimately the protection of Greek nature.

The second point raised was on Article 87 regarding the financing of fossil gas infrastructure projects through the Public Investment Program (PIP). Ioli Christopoulou pointed out that the provision contradicts the gas use reduction targets set by REPowerEU as well as the newest proposal to reduce gas demand by 15% by next spring. The provision also contradicts the new National Climate Law, which clearly promotes clean energy although it does not set a date for gas phase out.

Pointing out that it is not the first time that Greece has not interpreted correctly the signals of change , she recalled the investment in Ptolemaida 5 when the messages were clear that Greece should move towards delignitization.

In the context of the current developments, the financial priorities of the Public Investment Program should be directed towards the promotion and financing of alternatives (demand management systems, energy saving, heat pumps, renewable energy, electricity storage) that will have long-term benefits for citizens, the economy and the climate.

The debate on the draft law was held at the Parliament’s competent Committee on July 26, 2022.

Read (in Greek) the detailed memo sent by The Green Tank to Parliament Committee Members and the comments and recommendations submitted to the public consultation.

The Green Tank’s intervention at the public hearing is available (in Greek) here: