Environment in Danger
The residents of Hydra are deeply concerned about the threat to the natural and residential environment of the island due to massive tourism and poor ecological planning. This issue was raised at a press conference conducted on July 4, 2007 by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage.
The island of Hydra, almost entirely dependent on tourism, has no statutory town plan, no official demarcation between public land and private property and no specified open spaces for the benefit of the public. Mrs Eleni Maistrou, architect and assistant professor at the National Technical University of Athens, criticized the lack of a coherent policy to foster sustainable development on the island as well as the lack of any credible town planning legislation by the local authorities, even though there are several approved environmental studies from as early as 1989.
In an irresponsible move widely criticized by environmentalists, the Ministry of Culture approved in late 2006 the building of two-story houses at Avlaki, a region designated as protected area by the forest authority. This action of the Ministry of Culture was later canceled by the Council of State after a public outcry. Mr Panayiotis Tetsis, artist and emeritus professor of fine arts, put the blame exclusively on unhesitating architects and builders who often ignore environmental rules without any punishment.