The concession (in use and ownership)  of sections of public forest areas to the company “HELLAS GOLD SA”, stretching over ​​3,273 acres in 2012 in the areas of Skouries and Madem Lakos in the Municipality of Aristoteli, was considered constitutional by the Fifth Division of the Council of State for the sake of public interest

Yesterday, the Council of State decided on the appeals pending on harvesting issues in the site of Skouries. The residents of Halkidiki had turned to the Council of State seeking an annulment of the decision of the General Secretary of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia – Thrace, according to which the disputed public forest sections were granted to the company “Hellas Gold SA”. The applicants argued that the concession violated a series of constitutional provisions and community directives on the sustainable development of forest protection and cultural environment.

The Council of State ruled that the ministerial decision took into account the rarity and quality of the ore, the mining for the sake of public interest and the economy and the impact of intervention on the forest ecosystem of the area corresponding to 0.44% of the wider study area. In particular, it accepted that the use of forest land for mining activities is constitutionally tolerable if alternatives have been considered, as in this case, and that those needs could not be met without sacrificing a portion of the forest.

There was also another decision regarding the applications for the annulment of the signs of the forest inspector of Arnea which were issued in March to put a halt to the mining operations in Skouries. The applications were submitted in the Labour Centre of Halkidiki and other professional associations of miners, of the company, etc. The recess was requested by the Ministry of Productive Environment Reconstruction and Energy, namely by the Deputy Minister Gianni Tsironis to check the legality and conduct a retesting.

The Council of State ruled that in the document of the Deputy Minister ” no delinquency is attributed to the logging operations or the Forest Service document and therefore the indefinite interruption is unjustified and that the contested decision must be annulled, since it was noted in the ministry’s website that checks concluded the legality of the issued protocols.”