Greece’s flagship privatization of the former international airport in the area of Elliniko appears to have received a fresh blow which may further delay the project from getting off the ground.
Two months after the Council of State – Greece’s highest court – approved a presidential decree paving the way for construction work to get underway at the site, the privatization plan will return to the top court as a result of an appear filed by residents of the area.
Over five hundred citizens and four legal entities have requested that the presidential decree is revoked on grounds of unconstitutionality, citing environmental risks and possible degradation of the quality of life in the area. One of the arguments raised is that the project provides for the construction of thousands of homes, leading to thousands of new residents who will create an unsustainable new “city within the city”.
The previous Council of State ruling had examined some of the points made by citizens in this latest appeal, deeming that there are no issues with the project, nor its environmental impact. It had also said that the project is both legal and constitutional.
The privatization of the old airport plot is key to the completion of Greece’s bailout program as it is one of the largest investments to be made in the country. However, it has been met with opposition by residents, archeological bodies and some opposition parties, while it has also hit countless bureaucratic obstacles. There have also been delays due to public investment and development laws.
Before the latest appeal, the government had been at the stage of issuing joint ministerial decisions on construction and development zone issues.
The 7-billion-euro redevelopment project of investor Hellinikon Global – a consortium of Lamda Development, Fosun and Eagle Hills – will transform Athens’ former airport into a metropolitan park and includes the development of hotels, shopping centers, open-air cultural venues, residential areas and a casino./IBNA