01/04/2016

Participation of ARCHELON in the public consultation of the draft Presidential Decree for Kyparissia Bay, west Peloponnese

For the period from February 26 until March 15 the Ministry of Environment released for public consultation the revised draft Presidential Decree for Kyparissia Bay in west Peloponnese. The environmental organizations ARCHELON, WWF Hellas and MEDASSET in the context of the consultation submitted to the Ministry their detailed comments, aiming the achievement of favorable conservation status of the habitat.

Click here to download the full text of the organizations' comments (in Greek).

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Brief history of the case

Kyparissia Bay, at the western coast of central Peloponnese, has a significant ecological value because it is the second most important loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting habitat in the Mediterranean Sea and contains an extensive system of sand dunes. The Greek state should have laid conservation objectives and taken specific protection and management measures. In contrast, significant management and conservation issues remain unresolved and building interests threaten the habitat with degradation.

For the habitat of southern Kyparissia Bay there is a case file in the European Court of Justice (case file C-504/14), which was tried on January 13 and the relevant decision is expected. This case started in October 2012, when Greece received from the European Commission a Reasoned Opinion (EL2011/2156 ENVI) for violation of articles 6 and 12 of Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC. In response to the European Commission on the Reasoned Opinion, the Ministry of Environment committed to take protection measures for the nesting area. Despite the commitments of the Ministry of Environment to take appropriate measures to safeguard the core nesting area of the loggerhead sea turtle, the majority of conservation issues remained unresolved during the 2013 nesting season. Since no measures were taken in time to mitigate the problems within the 2013 nesting season, no substantial steps were taken to promote the long-term conservation of the area and as the new nesting season was about to begin in two months, the European Commission decided in March 2014 to take Greece to the Court of Justice over failure to provide adequate protection for the endangered sea turtles and their nesting habitat.

For the same habitat the Bern Convention opened a case file in 2013, noting the lack of protection measures for sand dunes and loggerhead turtles (case file Greece: Threats to marine turtles in Thines Kyparissias) and in December 2014 the Standing Committee of the Convention issued to Greece the Recommendation No. 174 on the conservation of the nesting habitat in southern Kyparissia Bay.

Since summer 2014 the Ministry of Environment promotes Presidential Decree for the habitat, which was submitted in December 2014 to the Hellenic Republic Council of State for review for constitutional lawfulness. The Council of State issued the relevant decision in April 2014 and found that the promoted draft Presidential Decree should be rejected on the formal basis that the Natura 2000 Commission had not given its prior endorsement lawfully. Moreover the court took the opportunity to provide guidance to the Greek administration on the substance of the proposed Draft Presidential Decree in light of the urgency of passing legislation concerning southern Kyparissia Bay. Finally the court emphasised that the issue of an improved draft Presidential Decree was urgent in light of the Infringement case 2011/2156 and the Bern Convention Recommendation. Therefore suggested to the Ministry of Environment the rapid resubmission of an improved draft.

10 months after the issue of the Council of State decision the Ministry of Environment complied with Council of State demands and released for public consultation the revised draft Presidential Decree.

Panagiota Theodorou Conservation Officer

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