ATHENS – All the unlawfully-built taverns in the wetland zone of the popular Schinias Beach near Marathon, northeast of the capital city, will be torn down by the end of February, the Decentralized Administration of Attica has ordered.
It’s common in Greece for businesses to seize beachfront property and build unlawful facilities, including on Athens’ beachfront, and then charge people to use public beaches with a series of governments looking the other way over the practice.
There are five tavernas on the protected Schinias Beach that were originally ordered to be demolished between 1997 and 1999 because they violate zoning codes but they weren’t and the owners ignored the orders and kept adding and making money with impunity.
If the demolition of all five structures is not completed in the next two months, however, Greece is at risk of being slapped with a hefty fine by the European Court of Justice for violating environmental protection regulations but the government has ignored previous such orders and there’s no guarantee the tavernas won’t keep on operating in defiance of the apparent law.
Authorities have already demolished three of the eight original structures that were illegally erected on land listed for environmental protection as it is a part of the Natura 2000 network.
But in January, 2016, long after the expiration of a 2014 appeal by the ministry to the municipality to revoke the other five operating licenses given to unlawful businesses, the local authorities said they didn’t want to tangle with the owners.
Deputy Mayor Vassilis Tsoupras told Kathimerini that the 2014 stay hadn’t expired at that point and said if the businesses were demolished that this would pit the municipality “in a judicial battle with these particular businessman,” who had no legal legs to stand on.