zoning plan unsatisfactory
News, 11 September 2009
A new draft zoning plan for the country’s coasts and islands, released
for debate by the Environment and Public Works Ministry, fails to address
the question of coastal protection and greater control of construction
In effect, the provisions of the plan do not diverge to any extent
from the basic principles of another issued in 2003,which was never
It lays out three zones, titled "Critical" (from up to 10 meters offshore
to 100 meters from the coast), "Dynamic" (100 meters to 200 meters
from the coastline) and "Remainder."
Swimming, fishing, fish farms and port infrastructure will be permitted
in the Critical zone, along with construction under very specific conditions,
chiefly those of a "public benefit" nature. In the Dynamic zone, homes,
even those existing prior to 1923, will not be allowed to cover more
than 60 percent of the property. Beyond the 200-meter limit, all current
building regulations will be in force.
However, "other permitted uses" are referred to in the Dynamic zone,
though these are not specified. More importantly, despite several rulings
by the Council of State recommending no new construction within 100
meters of the shoreline, the new plan retains the existing limit of
Although coastal settlements have multiplied rapidly in recent years,
building regulations have not changed for areas outside town plans.
According to a 1999 survey of eastern Attica, the number of coastal
settlements increased by 34 between 1971 and 1991 to a total of 87.
In Halkidiki, northern Greece, over the same period, the number rose
by 82 to total 135.
Part of the problem is that the actual shoreline has not been clearly
defined in legal terms. By 2002, only 1,700 kilometers of the country’s
shoreline had been determined, 11 percent of the total.
If someone wants to build in an area where the shoreline has not yet
been legally established, a special committee has to be set up.
There are dozens of conflicting laws, decrees and circulars regarding
the coastline - and many exceptions to them. Until 2001, the only institutional
tool that regarded coastal protection dated from 1940. It safeguarded
public access but failed to deal with problems resulting from an over-concentration
of population, state land-grabbing and illegal construction in these
In contrast to Greece, many European countries have raised the minimum
distance from the shoreline at which construction is allowed. In Italy,
the minimum has been 300 meters since 1985, while in Spain the first
100 meters has been characterized as state land since 1988 (with provisions
for an additional 100 meters) and many activities have been banned
within that limit.
In Portugal, a 1933 law set specific limitations for use of land at
a distance of 500 meters from the shore.