Reforestation decision for Helleniko overruled; two groups immediately file lawsuit to block ruling

Monday, 02 October 2017 19:22

Two environmental groups have filed a motion with the Council of State (CoS), Greece’s highest administrative court, in a bid to overrule a regional government decision quashing an earlier bureaucratic designation of a portion of the Helleniko site as land slated for reforestation.

The 620.5-hectare Helleniko site in southeast coastal Athens encompasses the old Athens airport as well as surrounding tracts of land hosting disused facilities (terminals, hangars, tarmacs etc), outdoor sports venues, state services (police, fire brigade, civil aviation) and large expanses of dirt and concrete-covered lots. The entire area has been awarded, via an international tender, to a Lamda Development-led consortium for transformation into the biggest real estate development project in the Mediterranean basin.

The motion by the two groups comes against a ruling by Attica prefecture-level council overruling the reforestation designation by a forestry service director in Piraeus, whose jurisdiction includes the Helleniko site.

The Helleniko project is one of the biggest privatizations in the still bailout-dependent country, considered as a “litmus test” for the leftist-rightist coalition government’s volition to facilitate such investments. Helleniko is also directly cited in the third memorandum as a deliverable that the Greek government must implement.

However, the investment has faced repeated bureaucratic hurdles and "red tape", such as the forestry official's decision - based on 1930s-era photographs of trees and brushland at the site - and a delayed recommendation by an archaeology council on whether or not any portions of Helleniko have an "archaeological interest". 

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