Tougher Environment Laws Backed by 91.1% in Greece

(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

ATHENS – With successive Greek governments moving to allow building even in protected areas or burned down forests, some 91.1 percent of Greek said they want tougher laws to protect the environment which has become secondary to development.

That was the finding of a survey commissioned by WWF Hellas, conducted by the pollster company MARC as part of the LIFE-IP 4 NATURA project on issues concerning the protection of nature, with emphasis on the regions protected under the Natura 2000 network, the state -un Athens News Agency reported.

The poll was conducted using a sample of 1,204 households from all parts of the country showing overwhelming support for better environmental protection, as high as 95 percent for those aged 17-24 while 30.6 percent said waste was the biggest problem, with Greece ignoring European Union directives to close landfills and still using coal to produce electricity.

Another 19.4 percent thought air pollution was the biggest environmental problem while 8.9 percent said sea and water pollution with growing evidence the country’s famed seas are becoming underwater garbage dumps, especially with plastics.

On environmental legislation, 82.2 percent wanted tougher laws to protect nature and 92.2 percent said the current laws aren’t being enforced at the same time most back the governments who they say are anti-environment.

Alternate Environment and Energy Minister Sokratis Famellos said the results showed Greeks are keenly aware of the value of the environment although the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has yet to meet promises to stop unlawful growth blocking water run-off and damaging the environment.

The report, published with support from the national NGO Nomos + Physis, also showed Greece’s dismal record in implementing EU environmental laws while facing 11 court rulings, including under SYRIZA.

Greece also accounts for 27 open cases of environmental law violation, a number only surpassed by Spain, which has 30 on record.

“The Greek state must safeguard the respect for environmental legislation and unimpeded access to this information as is appropriate to a country governed by the rule of law,” said WWF Hellas’s legal coordinator Giorgos Hasiotis.

He noted the July 23 wildfires that killed 100 people and razed woodlands, and also cited Greece being fined 100 million euros ($113.09 million) for violating EU environmental laws, especially around unlawful and dangerous waste disposal and without clear guidelines for seismic exploration and oil and gas extraction.