Residents of the island complain about the occupation of most of the beaches of Naxos by umbrella seats and the destruction of the natural environment, underlining that the legislation is “systematically violated”.

The “Save the beaches of Naxos” movement was created on July 16 and already has more than 1500 members who co-sign the open letter to every authority, so that the beaches of the island can be protected.

“It is particularly important to intervene in order to stop the destruction of beaches, sand dunes and the natural environment, but also to create the necessary infrastructure (parking roads, etc.) so that citizens stop destroying the beaches and the environment,” the coordinators of the new movement, Markella Hensley and Eleni Andrianopoulou, say to naxostimes. “We believe that immediate measures should be taken for the beaches, not only repression, fines, license revocations and enforcement of legality, but also protection projects” they stressed.

The open letter of the “Save the beaches of Naxos” movement

For a number of years, we have been witness to multiple cases and systematic violations/arbitrariness on the part of businessmen, who have been granted the right to use shared coastal and beach areas by the Municipality of Naxos or the Greek State in general, such as through the Public Real Estate Company S.A. (either by direct concession due to equality or after an auction). The terms of the above concessions, as well as numerous related provisions, are systematically violated in various ways, such as:

• With the occupation of a larger area of ​​public space than that defined by KYA 38609 EX 2023 (ΕΚ 1432/Β΄/10-03-2023) and permitted by the relevant permits for the concession of simple use of shared coastal and beach areas (Article 12, paragraph c).
• By placing tables, umbrellas and sunbeds in a significantly higher density than permitted and at a distance of less than five meters from the coastline (Article 12, paragraph c).
• By causing noise pollution, as the noise level from music exceeds the maximum permissible limit of 50 decibels (annex 4, paragraph 5).

Some others seem not to have even applied for such a right, but to immediately place tables etc. on the beach.

Also catering businessmen and hoteliers as well as owners of houses and plots of land prevent unhindered access to the coasts and their common use and furthermore destroy the natural environment in violation of the law which in the case of Naxos includes almost exclusively protected habitats of the European Natura 2000 network.

• With the creation of permanent/semi-permanent constructions on the seashore, the beach, the sand dunes (floors, stairs, masonry, pergolas, buildings, signs, etc.) in violation of the relevant legislation (appendix 1 of the KYA),
• By removing beach stones or other rocks, pebbles, sandbanks, “laying” the sand, continuous wetting of the sand dunes with fresh water to create a road surface,
• By removing vegetation in the sea (Posidonias) or on the sand (cedars, tamarinds),
• By the planting of foreign species and the subsequent exhaustion of the local flora
• With the night lighting of the sea and the beach
• Finally, they make neighboring beaches defacto private, blocking citizens’ access to them with deterrent signs or fences.

With circular of the Supreme Court 10/2023, 4-5-2023, it becomes clear to the prosecutors of the primary courts of the territory, as well as by extension to the authorities and citizens of the place that “Unhindered access to the beaches, conditio sine qua non for this summer”, supporting our own unyielding request “in any direction that it is not allowed, that we do not allow, the violation of [νόμιμου] destination of common things and [ότι είναι απαραίτητο οι εισαγγελείς και αρχές] to control[ν] permanently if the concession for the use of these parts is made for the exercise of activities defined by law and which serve the bathers or the recreation of the public.”

In the now uninterrupted degradation of the beaches of Naxos by businessmen and owners of adjacent land, a series of violations and omissions by visitors to the beaches or the authorities is added, as manifested:
• By removing shells and illegal fishing of protected species,
• By opening roads in sand dunes and parking vehicles in sand dunes and lagoons,
• With the passage of vehicles on sand dunes and beaches,
• By throwing garbage of all kinds on the beaches and in the sea.

The man-made systematic acceleration of soil erosion on the coast, but also in the interior of Naxos, and the degradation of the island’s ecosystem has unfortunately been finding many ways for many years now to be created with the tolerance or support of the authorities. Nevertheless “[μ]with the express provisions of the current Law 2971/2001, the responsibility, protection, safeguarding and management of [παραλιών, αιγιαλών και λιμνοθαλασσών] has been assigned to the public”, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Supreme Court emphasizes in every direction in the circular above.

We therefore consider that violations, such as the above, violate our right guaranteed by the Law to use the public, common goods of the seashore and the beach as well as the free access to them. In accordance with article 15 of KYA no. 38609 EX 2023 (ΦEK 1432/Β΄/10-03-2023) such violations should result in the unilateral revocation of concessions by the State. We know that they are apparently violating many other laws as well, and we ask for the investigation and support in clarifying the legal side by the relevant authorities, as well as their own action in case of further violations. Finally, we suspect that the systematic delinquency and degradation of public goods constitute breaches of duty by the competent authorities and need thorough prosecutorial intervention.

With this open letter, we request the competent authorities to act in accordance with their responsibilities and to protect the beaches of our island, proceeding with the necessary controls, in order to eliminate the lawlessness, which also violates the decision of the State Council of Greece (StE 3346/1999) according to which, the intended use of the public coastal and beach areas is “free and unhindered visit, stay, advent and bathing’ in them.

The direct actions of the authorities are necessary, on the one hand, to defend the public/common goods, on the other hand, to restore the trust of the citizens in the Authorities of a privileged state, which must apply the laws.

We believe that immediate action should be taken on the beaches, but not only repression, fines, license revocations and enforcement, but also protection projects, such as:

• to remove, remove, demolish the illegal permanent or semi-permanent constructions on the beaches and lagoons,
• to reposition the washed-out shore rocks,
• to restore the sand dunes with new sand in place of the illegally taken, so as to cover at least the roots of the trees exposed by the sand extraction,
• to close the roads on the sand dunes,
• fence off the sand dunes and add informational signs about them,
• to create elevated wooden paths on them,
• to provide parking spaces near the beaches and not on the sand dunes and lagoons,
• to stop dumping waste in lagoons and beaches,
• to underground the PPC network
• and stop all drilling that destroys the water table.

Even today the works to protect the soil have to start, the winds and rains will start soon. This concerns not only the beaches but also the mountainous Naxos which burned in the last few days to a catastrophic extent. The thousands of hectares burned by human hands, within the Natura2000 network, should mean twelve to all the competent authorities. At this point we want to thank the firefighters who succeeded and extinguished the fire from the bottom of our hearts. They give us hope that one day we too will rise to the occasion.

“Save the Beaches of Naxos NOW” movement