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Tomorrow, the country’s highest administrative court, will hear the joint appeal against a project for the construction of a tourism complex on the northwestern coast of Crete, which so far is untouched by any unnatural structures. Hundreds of Cretan residents as well as numerous environmentalists have been protesting against this construction for a considerable period of time.
The Cavo Sidero project, which is planning to introduce five holiday villages, numerous luxury hotels as well as three golf courses, will compromise not just the natural environment around the area, but will also adversely affect the island’s water resources, claimed the protesters.
Putting up a strong protest, campaigners lobbied to make the government boycott the project, which is being led by a British property development company known as Minoan Group. They wrote letters to 11 different ministers, to no avail as authorities are encouraging the company to go ahead with the project, which is bringing in an investment of 1.2 billion Euros.
Already facing periods of drought, the residents of Crete maintain that the plan would aggravate the situation immensely. Local farming cooperatives have joined in against the project, as they are also suffering due to lack of water resources.
Nikos Kyfonidis, President of Ierapetra Ecological Group, said “As more time goes by, more people are beginning to realize what is actually being planned for this area, and this has started generating doubt about the benefits of this initiative”. He further voiced his doubts on the validity of the agreement, which has allowed Minoan Group to lease nearly 2,600 hectares for a period of 80 years. He said “New evidence clearly indicates doubt on the credibility of this controversial contract”.
Not limited to local residents and environmentalists, the cause has found support from numerous foreign academics as well. Cambridge University Ecology professor, Oliver Rackham, in a talk with Britain’s Guardian newspaper termed the project as “grotesquely unsuited for one of the most arid places in Europe”. He further said that the development is unsustainable due to the huge amounts of water that will be required for it.
Meanwhile, Christopher Egleton, Minoan group’s Chairman, maintained that the resort would be built on only 1 percent of the site, and would be fully sustainable, and will bring many benefits to the local community eventually.