The extension project is apparently justified as “to offer more ease and better service to passengers. Provide opportunities to attract new investments in the context of sustainable development and the protection of the local physiognomy. Improve the mobility of residents of Paros” and others. One would have to know indeed! The project was endorsed by the Municipal Council of Paros and justified by Greece to the European Authorities for “safety reasons”. Some authorities want to make Paros a hub, opening Pisso Livadi as a new connecting gateway to the southern Aegean islands.
The need to extend the airport to improve the mobility of Residents is a decoy: connectivity to other airports in Greece can only be conceived operationally (let aside for environmental reasons) for cost reasons by small aircraft, currently perfectly served by the existing runway.
We recognize, of course, that the improvement of the existing infrastructure of the airport is undoubtedly necessary. The arrivals and departures halls are temporary and inadequate … but who will explain the necessity of increasing the building facilities from 750 to 12 500 m2?
The possible use of the airport by Residents of Paros for direct travel to Europe in high season – during which they are mainly active on the island to manage the influx of tourists and earn their living, is implausible. In addition, during low season, airlines will stop their flights, for lack of customers. But no problem, Residents have in this season all leisure to benefit from connections at “soft” prices via Athens, bringing them in less than 5 hours in all European capitals. It is therefore not serious to justify the extension of the airport as necessary for the mobility of those Residents. And then, would it even be, would it be reasonable to consume millions of euros for hypothetical individual needs, when other emergencies are clearly a priority?
The economic and social interest of the island would be at stake: without an airport, black misery to come. Let us see instead: no serious quantification of local benefits has been conducted, neither in terms of employment, nor in terms of increase in real estate value nor local production. On the contrary, as we shall see below, the nuisance and the direct and indirect environmental effects are likely to degrade the attractiveness of the island, and to be dramatically counterproductive. The island is already experiencing an immigration of workers in the high tourist season – local employment being mostly limited outside this period – which is typically the period when the Island is already both easily accessible and at a lower cost, for the tourists it would like to attract.
We invite all to take a closer look: the island does not have a capacity to accommodate the awaited additional influx (more than 28 000 additional residents in high season in a reasonable scenario – see greenparosairport.eu) and developing this lodging capacity to compensate for its deficit will irreparably impact the ecosystem, the landscape and social geography that make all the attraction of the Island.
While the direct residents of the airport will suffer direct nuisances … indirect nuisances will indeed affect the entire Island : the proposed increased airport activity is counterproductive for all.
How to justify an expenditure of more than 40 million euros of public money (meant for environmental improvements !) – carrying out an airport extension to quintuple (at the very least) its annual capacity, to manage some 70 daily aircraft movements, and to increase the resident population during the summer months by at least 28 000 people … for the supposed – but sole – satisfaction of “high-end” customers? Should public money (destinated for environmental goals) serve the most privileged among us? Is this the vision that the authorities of Paros and supporters of the extension project have?
We agree that the airport will lead to investments in accommodation, services, catering, finding their justification in the increased demand – but at what price, with what consequences ?
The “high-end”, which favours exclusive scarcity, will not be served well with a high-capacity airport attracting more visitors … degrading the quality and attractivity of the Island.
As pointed out by supporter comments, the current real estate development is already achieved without this extension, which is therefore useless for this purpose.
And then, again, why subsidize with public (environmental) funds investments in support of the development of a hotel industry targeting wealthy customers, unlikely to create a substantial local return, jobs – other than (mainly) seasonal and generally underpaid ones?
The “water problem” is said to be under control. We dispute that the potable water capacity will remain sufficient. Wells cannot be overexploited more than they currently are, otherwise, the aquifers will be irreparably polluted by seawater infiltration. An elementary calculation shows that the potential additional arrivals induced by the airport extension, will require the desalination capacity to be increased by about 50% of its current capacity. The problem is that this will be done at an undeniable environmental cost: the discharge of brine, a residual product of desalination, already responsible for the destruction of flora and fauna in the waters in front of Parosporos, will dramatically affect the quality of all of the coastal waters yet supposed to be among the main attractions of Paros.
The electricity supply is said to be assured. If indeed the supply of electricity to the island can now be secured thanks to connection with the mainland, it remains to be verified that it is indeed secured. But the distribution of this electricity on the island will have to be completely revised, which will have to be done in the short term and cannot be delayed.
The “wastewater” problem is said to be under control. Disagree!The wastewater produced by the increase in tourism, will be mainly produced in isolated dwellings to be created, not likely to be connected to any sewage system transporting sewage to centralized treatment plants. Current environmental and municipal legislation and policy are totally deficient in this respect: no obligation of individual purification exists. Can you imagine what will happen with groundwater if all homes discharge their untreated wastewater into the aquifers used intensively for potable water production ?
The idea of implementing irrigation from wastewater treatment plants: a pious wish? No centralized irrigation infrastructure exists. Note: current (sustainable) technologies allow the re-potabilization of treated sewage effluent. Perfectly subsidizable investments by the way.
The waste situation is said to be relatively satisfactory. Think again : the situation is from an environmental point of view, completely medieval.
It is particularly shocking that the municipal authorities are perpetuating the bygone practice of landfilling , in denial of the responsible European objectives subscribed by Greece – including, in particular, the end of this landfilling. Many countries (from which most “high-end” customers would mostly come) have already banned landfilling. It’s hard to believe that “high-end” customers, already aware at home about this, will be enthusiastic about spending time on an island piling up its waste, producing methane (a kg of methane is of the order of 25 x more contributing to global warming than a kg of CO2) and other odours, produced by its landfill. Worse : many spots … even complete valleys are spoiled with illegal dumping.
It is sad to note supporters’ self-satisfaction with the current organization of waste management. Look well : recurrent inability to collect waste in tourist season, to carry out a real selective collection due to lack of containers, non-existence of container parks, many announcement effects on recycling, but no real incentive policy to reduce waste production.
We would all be excited to measure the performance of the Sorting Centre proudly announced. Unfortunately, it remains very discreet. For a good reason : it is a completely improvised and barely legal (if at all). The construction of a bio-waste treatment unit may be a first contribution, but will not solve the problem. More is necessary.
The Island and its Authorities face many environmental challenges, already critical in the current stadium. How can one dare to welcome more visitors without having fundamentally settled the aforementioned subjects first?
Wouldn’t it be more responsible to use the EUR 40 million to be spend on welcoming the privileged people of this world, to make the island a model of sustainability, and in fact, to make it attractive in an authentically sustainable way?
We read many wrong numbers assessments. One must be careful and precise, when speaking about numbers. HCAA gives in its published statistics for Paros airport, the figure of 22 000 arrivals per month or the order of 700 arrivals per day in August 2019 for historical maximum (which may have been exceeded this year – we do not have the figures). We read in some posts an arrival estimate of 1 500 people/day, confusing passengers arriving and leaving, and making wrong calculations, used in superficial reasoning.
More serious analysis (we invite you to read more on www.greenparosairport.eu ) shows that if the extended airport of Paros succeeds in attracting flights as Mykonos did in 2019, Paros and Antiparos will face …
… a potential of 500 000 additional arrivals per year compared to 2018, …
… representing more than 4 000 000 overnight stays (INSETE indicating in 2018 an average tourist stay in Greece of 8 nights), …
… while their population in July and August (recurrently 21% of annual arrivals in each of these months) will increase by at least 28 000 people,…
… at the price a nuisance of more than 70 flights per day during these months …
The opponents’ right to oppose the extension project is if not denied, questioned. Regrettable : the contrary is true – the developers should have invited the public concerned to discuss the project and to come up with their concerns before submitting their permit application. They did not. Too bad for them, not the opponents’ fault. The latter are acting in line with the provisions of the legislative and regulatory framework, using legitimately their rights. This framework provides, also in application of binding European directives, and inter alia, obligations for developers to carry out transparent information and consultation with the public concerned in order to consider, as far as possible, its concerns. It must be clear to all that the developers of the airport extension project have regrettably flouted these rules: superficial and (knowingly if not amateuristically) incomplete impact studies, failure to inform the public and lack of consultation, … to name but a few. Today, the only recourse the opponents have is to address the competent Greek and European authorities, according to the laws and regulations in place, to assert their rights, which will be recognize, or not. This is the opponents’ undisputable right and perfectly legal.
Let’s come back on the funding for the project : it will be mainly paid with European funds made available to Greece for the improvement of its environment. However, there is no way to consider that the airport extension project will improve the environmental impact of the targeted tourism. On the contrary. It will irremediably affect the local environment and induce – with the increased aviation traffic – an increase of air pollution and of emission of greenhouse gases, not compatible with current and future binding restrictive policies on aviation and global warming prevention. It goes against the remarkable environmental commitments and policy of Prime Minister Mitsotakis and his Government.
We furthermore see that the Government intends to privatize the airport in the near future (with 22 other regional airports) and does not seem to plan to reimburse the profit it will derive from the concession of the extended airport to the generous Europe, (unvoluntary) sponsor of its extension.
All this seems to us to be a deliberately unlawful use of the European budget, which is under European law a fraud. Is this defensible? We say no.
Finally, we note the propensity of the promoters and their supporters to want to go in force, and that we are ostracized by public representatives, and in particular by the Mayor and the Secretary General of the City Council of Paros describing us, among other things, as “non-friends of Paros”, which has earned some of us, if not veiled threats at least “warnings”. The various demonstrations of some elected representatives and “journalists” are no less than shameful calls to hatred. Threats, covert or not, “warnings” attempts at intimidation and obscene publications divide and refer to other very unpleasant, dark and dangerous times of the past.
We call on these public representatives, and all extension supporters, even if they disagree with our arguments, to publicly acknowledge the legality of our action. We invite them to submit their arguments – in full transparency for the public – they wish to oppose us, to the bodies in charge of handling our complaints, and call them to ensure the serenity of the debate and our safety.
Some supporters’ comments seem to recognize however, that the inhabitants of the fly zones will be impacted by the flights from the extended airport, and we congratulate their authors on this objectivity. It is also acknowledged by these comments that some action should be taken in this regard. But how does one take measures to limit the nuisance to those persons if the extended airport permit recently issued does not in any way limit the use of the planned infrastructure? This statement seems to us to be just another pious wish, even manipulative in the given circumstances.
We are sorry to see the alignment of supporters’ arguments without any basis, seriously ignoring the reality of the facts and the risk involved. We understand (and hope) that supporters have an ambition (hopefully genuine) to improve the quality of the island’s situation. The improvement of the airport’s current infrastructure is undoubtedly necessary. That is all well and good, but not on the scale envisaged – and we believe, for the remainder, that all supporters are seriously mistaken about their priorities.
Nowhere in supporters’ posts is addressed the real question : what Paros needs to do, to meet and anticipate the inevitable emission reduction measures contributing to the fight against global warming. It is not a mere question of responding to external governmental instructions : global warming is already having an effect on Paros’ climate also (see the drought of the last two years, the fires suffered, …), and will no doubt impact it even more in the short term.
The tourist model targeted by the developers and supporters of the airport extension, the belief that a pharaonic airport, tax free shops, and other food & beverages (illicitly financed by environmental subsidies) is necessary for the sustainability of the economy of Paros … is totally obsolete, wrong and dramatically guilty of societal misbehaviour.
We are sorry for the supporters’ and promotors’ lack of knowledge of what is happening among the new generations of their customers to come: the environmental responsibility those customers want to see applied at all levels.
We are sorry for their ignorance of the inevitable restrictions that are announced for civil aviation, and which will impact more or less quickly the accessibility of Paros … who in the meantime would have spent a lost money on an airport (the damage being done, however).
We are sorry that they are so misinformed about what will be the aviation of tomorrow, which with your and our help, can nevertheless be implemented as early as 2025.
Indeed, the good news is that credible players in the aviation industry are about to obtain the accreditation of electric aircraft, comparable to the DASH and ATR of Olympic and Sky Express flying at medium distances, without emissions, without noise, and … satisfied with runways of less than 1,000 m. Going back to the supporters’ logic: wouldn’t it be more attractive for “high-end” tourism to book access to Paros for such planes? Norway, Austria, France have banned (different conditions and calendars applying) domestic flights consuming kerosene – why not Greece ? Ibiza, once a dream island, now invaded by tourism and declining in value, envies its neighbour Formentera, which fights without faltering for the conservation of its environment and sees its attractiveness increasing – yet without any airport. Costa Rica has become the global benchmark for ecotourism and attracts more travellers, with more added value for local people than ever before – why not Greece, why not Paros ?
The promotors and supporters question our right to oppose a planning decided “in high place”. We consider it our civic duty to use the means of law to avoid the irreparable.
Authorities, financiers, consultants and others involved on the matter are deceivingly looking back at outdated models of tourism development. We invite them to really care about the Paros of tomorrow, about future generations, about both environmental and economic sustainability, to research and to become informed on the matter, to foster transparency, dialogue and public participation and decide with both heart and mind on the island, with an eye to the future, addressing legitimate interests of the public concerned.
Let us join forces for a sustainable future.
Dirk Cortvriend is member of the FoPA and of Green Paros’ Airport
ELSTAT, SETE, Civil Aviation Service (YPA), Ministry of the Interior, “ANTONIS TRITSIS” Program, Municipality of Paros, DEYAP and many others, see our documentation