Saturday, December 13, 2008

Planned Resort in

Mystery lovers, this is where we unveil those who would have us believe they are environmentally concerned while sucking everything they can out of the situation. How do they do it? Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors. As you will see, what is presented for the world to see is something akin to making an elephant disappear on a stage in front of hundreds of witnesses.

The audience is shown an elephant in an enclosure on the stage. There is no doubt - the elephant is truly there. After much bravado on the part of the magician, dazzling light effects on the part of the electricians, and much dancing and other so-called creative distracting moves the curtain is closed around the elephant. The lights dim, the crowd is hushed and suddenly the curtain is drawn back and the elephant is gone. The crowd is stunned and amazed. The magician (illusionist) and his assistant(s) take their flamboyant bow and the stage curtains are drawn concealing everyone from sight.

What the crowd did NOT see was that as the enclosure curtain was around the elephant, the mirrors that had been installed in the enclosure were adjusted to an angle to reflect only reflections of the reflections. When the enclosure curtain opened, the elephant was still standing exactly where he/she had been moments before; but, was now rendered invisible to us by the clever use of mirrors and their reflections.

Call me psychic; but, I can see the question in your minds. What does an over privileged, environment-destroying resort on a fragile, supposedly-protected Greek island have to do with disappearing elephants that don’t really disappear?

I’m glad you asked.

The elephant is our case is the damage that will be done to the fragile ecosystem of the Toplou peninsula on the Greek isle Crete if Minoan Group is allowed to develop the planned Cavo Sidero resort.

Minoan Group claims that its development of Cavo Sidero is "underpinned by a comprehensive environmental policy, designed to protect the site's ecosystem through a long-term program of sustainable environmental management". They also promise to respect the area’s topography and preserve existing vistas working with not against the landscape. They further claim they intend to use traditional Cretan building styles and Cretan material throughout. The final “green” offering they have is that they say the building footprint occupies less than 1%, and that energy-efficient systems will be used.

This is the enclosure they supply to surround the elephant. Outside, everything looks to be exactly what is being presented. In this case, what is being presented is all the correct “environmental” jargon, legal mumbo jumbo and all the razzle-dazzle of a circus come to town.

While everyone is accepting coffee and doughnuts from a very charming and a very gracious host and hostess (the enclosure curtain), someone turns the mirrors and voila.

While the elephant of environmental destruction is still there; no one can see it because despite the fact that the report is highly favourable to the resort, it is only perfunctory. The report fails in at least four essentials areas: there are only vague general principles open to various interpretations; there’s a lack of essential detail; deals only with the areas proposed to be built on right now; and, says nothing of the effect(s) on the rest of the peninsula.

What does lurk behind the mirrors? What is it that we can’t see? Unfortunately, there are many issues to consider. If this first development is successful, there will surely be cries for more – and not just more; but, bigger and better more. Even if a second development is not called for, there is still the threat of encroachment by service buildings, car parks, litter and dumps for earth and rubbish. The grazing habits of wildlife in that area will be affected; thereby, changing the habits of other species around them creating a possible loss of species.

Remember, this land harbours the largest palm grove of the special Cretan Vai palm tree. While this grove is not directly being encroached on, it is threatened by contamination of the groundwater which nourishes it. An equally dangerous situation is that developers often bring in foreign palm trees complete with red palm weevils. Red palm weevils are particularly deadly to native palms as they have never built up any defenses against this imported insect.

Minoan Group proposes eight sites for protection: the site of Itanos, two scraps of landscape and five isolated sites. One of these five sites is already a fragile Minoan villa. In one of the first signs of the respect with which they treat the heritage of the Toplou peninsula, they intend to run the road to the desalination plant they propose right through a very important site. The site has substantial ancient building foundations so close to the surface of the earth they are clearly visible without any excavation work of any kind. We can probably expect the same kind of respect for the Cretan heritage and ecology throughout the project.

The sites that have been singled out for protection are simply “green” window dressing – part of the smoke and mirrors. The entire island is an unexplored archaeological site capable of surviving if left alone; but, so fragile and easily destroyed that commercial development will consign many more plant species to the extinct list.

And the venerable monastery – the last bastion of truth and all things honourable apparently had been in contact with Minoan Group prior to the global invitation for tenders were issued for developments on Crete. During these discussions between Minoan Group and the monastery (who own the land), Minoan Group managed to obtain an “option for first submission” before others were aware the competition had been set. There are allegations that Minoan Group had an unfair advantage over rival competitors and they would appear to be one of the only things that is not smoke and mirrors.

For more information and a chance to sign the petition, go to:

1 comment:

kathi said...

great analogy!