Europe

Is the Ministry of the Environment just a name?

Massive fires devastated Dadia National Park in northern Greece last month, destroying thousands of hectares or pristine forests. Under the temporarily withdrawn provisions, the Natura Site will no longer be protected from certain invasive activities. [DIMITRIS ALEXOUDIS/AMNA]

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time we’d seen a ministry perform such a stunt. In this case, it was the Ministry of the Environment that put the draft law to public hearings, containing dozens of diverse provisions, despite the main “themes” involved (initially in just a week, the specified minimum). Development of offshore wind farms.

The bill toured ministries for months, collecting more and more provisions on the environment, urban planning and energy. By the time it was submitted to Congress, the number of articles had ballooned from 97 to 178, with additions from other ministries. It has grown even further, reaching 201 articles by the time it was recently voted in the House of Commons, becoming Law 4964/2022. In short, it was another shining example of poor, out-of-the-box legislative work.

Legal frameworks for protected areas should be determined by expert and scientific evidence with the aim of protecting those areas

However, the law came to the public’s attention as the Ministry of the Environment sought to allow its use and activity in the Natura area through a series of provisions on protected habitats. During parliamentary debates at committee level, these particular provisions met with fierce backlash from scientific and environmental groups, not to mention most of their opponents, who eventually passed the chapter on the eve of ratification of the law. All have been withdrawn.

Was it taken down because Reason finally won out? No, it was the political management of a sticky situation. Indeed, Environment Minister Costas Skrekas confirmed in September that the chapter would be withdrawn for “further consideration” and that he would be returned to the House of Commons in just over a month. Stop joking about what those deliberations entail. Legal frameworks for protected areas should be determined by expert and scientific evidence with the aim of protecting those areas. Instead, the regulations put forward by the Ministry of the Environment were clearly dictated by economic interests. Then, on what kind of interests will future deliberations be based?

Given the recent Greek conviction for failing to adequately protect the Natura 2000 site and the more recent referral to the European Court of Justice regarding the environmental licensing process, the ministry should have paid more attention. If anything, as the name suggests, it should have paid more attention to its proper role.



https://www.ekathimerini.com/opinion/1190627/ministry-for-the-environment-in-name-only/ Is the Ministry of the Environment just a name?

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