Fines and trash

Mr. Michalopoulos’ companies continue accumulating fines for environmental and urban planning violations. In a document dated April 24, 2024, the Santorini Urban Planning Office informs company 105 SA and the relevant public agencies in Ios about an inspection that it conducted at Koumbara in the area where the stream lies. According to the inspection, part of the stream has been encroached upon to construct a concreted surface. (This surface is part of the parking lot of the Erego restaurant. The illegal filling of the stream was one of the violations for which the legal representative of 105 SA received a 9-month suspended jail sentence by the Greek Supreme Court in January 2024.) The Urban Planning Office imposes a fine of 16,382 Euros for the construction of the concreted surface and an annual fine of 8,184 Euros for each year the construction remains in place.

The inspection by the Urban Planning Office concerns only one of the TWENTY violations that have been identified in the reports of the environmental inspectors from 2016 and 2018. We do not know why the inspection was limited to confirming this particular violation. We hope that future inspections and fines for the remaining violations will follow soon. We also hope that the process of restoring the area will begin. We are closely monitoring these issues and taking action whenever necessary.

A parallel development, perhaps not unrelated to the new fine, is yesterday’s deluge of promotional articles about Mr. Michalopoulos and his activities in Ios. Examples include the article by Stefania Souki at newmoney.gr, titled “Why the Michalopoulos family acquired nearly 30,000 acres in Ios,” and by Teti Igoumenidi at Naftemporiki, titled “Investments in Ios by the Calilo Group.”

Among other things, these promotional articles announce the drafting of an Environmental Action Plan and the establishment of an Environmental Observatory. These supposed environmentally friendly initiatives are yet another attempt at greenwashing by the main culprit of Ios’s environmental degradation.

The Environmental Observatory, for instance, is staffed by close associates of Mr. Michalopoulos, who assist him in the planning and potential implementation of his investment plans. What do these gentlemen have to do with the protection of Ios’s environment?

Otherwise, the articles contain statements by Mr. Michalopoulos, in which he distorts reality, as is his usual practice.

  • He assures the reader that he and his family want to preserve the authenticity and uniqueness of the island as they knew it 20 years ago. He fails to explain how his care for protecting the island’s character aligns with the destruction of the Papa wetland and the network of streams in the area – one of the most unique, but now destroyed, parts of the island. The same applies to Koumbara, a unique area of the island, where the rocky connection to the neighbouring islet Diakofto has been replaced by a concrete bridge.
  • He reiterates that he is committed to utilising only 1% of the total area he owns. He does not mention that this 1% includes all the beaches adjacent to his properties, which will become de facto private. Obviously, he does not plan to build hotels and villas on the mountain peaks that he owns.
  • He presents himself as an investor with a long-term horizon, without anxiety or pressure to realise his investments. He does not mention that he had sought to construct a tourist village in Koumbara ten years earlier, with many illegalities and hasty actions, but the investment was rejected by the Supreme Court.
  • He criticises other tourism entrepreneurs for their arrogance, saying specifically that “we must stop being envious of our neighbours and we must rely on our own hard work. In the past, we became arrogant at times, as happened in the ’80s in large islands, with large hotels that altered the image of the destinations.” Mr. Michalopoulos and his companies have already altered or destroyed iconic landscapes of Ios. Criticising others for arrogance seems somewhat… arrogant.

We believe that the proper place for these promotional articles is in the trash. The same goes for Mr. Michalopoulos’s new supposedly environmentally friendly initiatives.

See Also