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.

See more...
Basic Data
NameComplex tourism investment in Moni Toplou (Kavo Sidero), Greece
ProvinceLasithi – Island of Crete
SiteMunicipality of Itanos
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Land acquisition conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesLand
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPrior Phase:

According to the rejected EIA, the complex tourist investment comprised:

- 7000 beds (2.220 hotel beds, 2.490 beds in apartments, 2.290 beds in second residence)

- 3 Golf Courses (2 courses of 18 holes and 1 of 9 holes)

- Conference center of 1.190 seats

- Administrative center

- Sports center

- Cultural and environmental center

- 2 wastewater treatment plants

- 1 desalination plant (to supply water to

- golf courses)

- Relevant technical networks

According to other documents, the following services, that are not included in the EIA, were foreseen:

- Horse riding facilities

- Shooting facilities

- Spa

- Marina

Current Phase : “ITANOS GAIA” (fast track)

- 5 hotels (1,936 hotel beds)

- 1 Golf course (18 holes)

- Ancillary infrastructure

- 1 SPA center
Project Area (in hectares)Prior phase: 2,500/ Current phase 2.5
Level of Investment (in USD)Prior phase: 1,346,000,000 Current phase: 300,466,359
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population2,164 (Municipality of Itanos) 72,198 (Lasithi Perfecture) 682,928 (Island of Crete)
Start Date20/04/2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesLoyalward Ltd from United Kingdom
Panayia Akrotiriani from Greece
Relevant government actorsMunicipality of Itanos, Perfecture of Lasithi,

Ministry of finance, Ministry of Enviroment, Spatial Planning and Public Works
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCoordinating 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
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment 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-economic 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)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesThe 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 as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

Natura 2000


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


[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
ContributorErmioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update21/10/2015