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Complex tourism investment in Moni Toplou (Kavo Sidero), Greece

Promotion of investments and privatization of common goods in a NATURA 2000 site as a recipes to counter financial crise; read about touristic projects in Crete


The island of Crete is one of the main tourist destinations in Greece, as it receives the 1/5 of the tourists visiting Greece and the population of the island increases by five times each year. The touristic industry is based on the “sun and sea” product and the majority of the activities is concentrated on the north coast. The proposed touristic investment is planned to be implemented in the north east part of the island, close to Siteia. The wider area presents low touristic development and a small percentage of the population works at the sector. This happens mainly due to the isolation of the area from the island transportation networks and centres. Thus, the wider area presents important environmental and archaeological sites and natural landscapes. The majority of the population declares agriculture as primary occupation.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Complex tourism investment in Moni Toplou (Kavo Sidero), Greece
State or province:Lasithi – Island of Crete
Location of conflict:Municipality of Itanos
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Tourism Recreation
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Prior Phase:

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Project area:Prior phase: 2,500/ Current phase 2.5
Level of Investment:Prior phase: 1,346,000,000 Current phase: 300,466,359
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:2,164 (Municipality of Itanos) 72,198 (Lasithi Perfecture) 682,928 (Island of Crete)
Start of the conflict:20/04/2004
Company names or state enterprises:Loyalward Ltd from United Kingdom
Panayia Akrotiriani from Greece
Relevant government actors:Municipality of Itanos, Perfecture of Lasithi,
Ministry of finance, Ministry of Enviroment, Spatial Planning and Public Works
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Coordinating Committee of Movements and Environmntal Groups of Sitia;
Environmental Association of Itanos;
Cretan Network of Ecological Organizations EcoCrete,;
Eastern Crete Autonomous Engineers ;
Environmental Group of Sitia;
Ierapetra Agricultural Cooperatives;
Elliniki Etairia, Society for the Environment and the Cultural Heritage
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:The wider area of Lasithi presents a very dynamic and extroverted agricultural sector. It has the largest percentage of irrigated lands and of greenhouses in Crete. The main products are olive oil (registered as protected designation of origin) and greenhouses’ vegetables of high quality. At the same time tourist facilities available in the area is of small scale and the natural landscape, along with the non-built up coasts, the Vai Palm Forest and the archaeological sites, permits the further development of low scale tourist activities.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:In 2010, when the Council of State rejected the project’s EIA, there was the certainty that the project was cancelled. Although, the next years, under the pretext of the financial crisis, the parliament voted laws that initialized the promotion of investments and the privatization of common goods at the expense of the environment and the society. In addition to this, the law promote the funding of the investments by state and EU development funds. It remains to be seen, if the Company would proceed to the implementation of the investment plan. Given this, and even if the project is modified, we cannot assume that the case was a success of environmental justice.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Natura 2000

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Melissourgos G., 2008, Local-Regional development and geography of spatial contrasts - Study of two tourism development cases in Greece and Spain, Doctoral Dissertation

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Ecocrete, 2010, The approval of the EIA for Moni Toplou is illegal
[click to view]

[6] Siteia News, 2015, "Green light" by the State Council for investing in Moni Toplou
[click to view]

[2] Online petition against the investment, 2011
[click to view]

[3] Lewino Fr., 2008, Massacre au béton, Le Point
[click to view]

[5] Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks , 2012, Press Release
[click to view]

Other documents

Complex Investment in Moni Toplou Map outline Source: Melissourgos G., 2008
[click to view]

Poster against golf courses Moni Toplou (Cavo Sidero)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ermioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update21/10/2015
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