|Exploitation of plaster quarry in the region bight of Stomio of Municipality of Innachorio, prefecture of Chania, island Crete.
The affair concerns an old plaster quarry in the region of Chania. The mine was acquired in 2001 aiming at its activation. Until then the exploitation was circumstantial, depending on the needs of the previous exploiter. The deposit is a layer of anhydride that on the surface has been altered to plaster of very good quality.
The region in which the particular layer is found is located inside the Area of Special Protection “Meterizia – Agios Dikaios - Tsounara - Visilia of White Oreon” as well as inside the shelter of wild life of “Agios Dikaios - Visilias - Almyrokastrou and Elafonisi” that includes regions with high biodiversity, species of protected birds and big number of other species. Concretely, in the region in question lives Gypaetos (Gypaetus barbatus).
Gypaetos appears in the region with one only reproductive pair while two more exist in all Greece. The situation for the particular type is, as it appears, dramatic and for this it is protected from the Community Directive 79/409/EOK (Annex I). It has also been registered in the types that are in danger with extinction in the Greek and European Red Book of Threatened Spondylozoa.
The quarrying activity in the region is considered that will negatively affect the reproduction process. For this reason the pre-existing study of EIA was rejected and a new type A' EIA study was submitted for approval. In this study, measures were proposed for the protection of the birds from the quarrying activity. The use of explosives was suppressed and the excavation would be accomplished only with mechanic means (hydraulic hammer). Besides the above, all the excavation work would be stopped during reproduction (from November until March) and the only work that would be performed during this interval were modulations and plantings of trees in order to re-establish the environment from the mining process.
The findings of the A' EIA were that no significant impacts would arise in the reproduction of gypaetos (no activity during the reproductive period).
The approval of type A' EIA study from three involved Ministries (Ministry of environment planning and public works, Ministry of Growth and ministry of Rural Growth) is essential in order to validate the authorisation of quarry exploitation. While the two first ministries approved the study considering that the precautions that were proposed for the protection of Gypaetos were adequate to safeguard the process of reproduction, the Ministry of Rural Growth considered that the quarry will cause significant disturbance and did not approve the study (2003), without however justifying its decision or proposing alternative operation procedures.
In January 2008, following a change of government, the study was submitted again for approval and the company hopes this time to receive a ruling from the ministry of Rural Growth within the usual legal time-frames.