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Greek Environmentalists Fight Windfarm in Mountain Forests Plan

ATHENS — Greek environmentalists who don't want coal-fired generating plants to create electricity, nor nuclear power, are opposing a plan for a windfarm in the Dirfys mountains south to the Aegean island of Evia, citing giant turbines.

“There are hundreds of trees stretching for kilometres which will be destroyed,” mountain climber Tassos Baltas, part of an informal coalition of environmentalists, citizens’ groups and local authorities who oppose the 470 megawatt, 100-turbine scheme told the news agency Reuters.

They contend that the project will ruin acres of ancient forests although the government said it's part of a drive toward more sustainable and green energy that environmentalists generally embrace.

The ruling New Democracy said it's trying to meet European Union climate targets and more toward sustainable energy and away from fossil fuels and plans to shut down coal plans by 2025, the report said.

That would also tie to trying to boost renewable energy to 35 percent of transmission by 2030, the EU setting a target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 55 percent by 2020, although that can vary.

“Knowing that Greece has lagged behind in issues related to climate and energy targets all the previous years, the government wanted to be among Europe’s champions in the green transition,” Secretary General for Energy Alexandra Sdoukou told the news site.

With relatively little use of solar power either in a country with abundant sunshine, Greece has been increasing wind energy through giant turbines that opponents don't like, including for aesthetic reasons, especially on mountains and coastal areas where they catch the wind but are deemed eyesores.

With its regular high winds and proximity to the mainland’s power grid, Evia has seen hundreds of wind turbines put up although local officials said the government is moving too quickly and doesn't have widespread support for them.

“We are not trying to fight with the government nor are we against investment, we just believe that the way this is being developed it is badly planned,” said George Kelaiditis, the Deputy Prefect of Evia.

The Karystia district in southern Evia is already full of windfarms and opponents say more turbines will turn a largely agricultural region that also attracts tourists and nature lovers to its forest trails into an industrial zone, said Reuters.

“They neither provide jobs or any economic benefits to the region. The opposite in fact, they are going to create problems with the economic activity in the village of Steni,” said Vasso Mela, a central Evia resident.

The opposition has created a dilemma for New Democracy as environmentalists want alternatives to coal but are fighting the wind power scheme too even as Greece is being required to meet EU clean and green energy goals.

“Greece has lost a great deal of time in the proper development of renewable energy resources,” Theodota Nantsou, Policy Director for the World Wide Fund for Nature in Greece told the news site.

“Its decision to move away from lignite came very late in 2019 and now it is scrambling to catch up,” she said. The groups haven't proposed alternative ideas to create energy without harming the environment some way.

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