The Prime Minister of Greece.
Dear Prime Minister,
I write as President of Corfu Owners Association regarding the proposed development by NCH Capital at Erimitis in North Corfu.
This Association was formed last year, primarily to represent individuals who have a second home in Corfu. It now has about 200 members. Collectively they must have invested well over 100 million euros in Corfu. As they invite friends, and rent out their houses, they generate thousands od high spending visitors every year – many of whom are people of considerable influence and significance in the UK and elsewhere. Every year they, and their guests, contribute a huge amount to the local economy, spending money on building and renovating houses, and in the tavernas, restaurants and shops.
As stated on our website www.corfuowners.com, the objectives of the Association are
- To help protect the ecology and environment in Corfu
- To maintain close relations with the Authorities and local representatives
- To keep members informed regarding any issues that might affect them
- To lobby for change where appropriate
- To assist and, if appropriate, support financially, any relevant local initiatives, particularly regarding waste management and recycling
The great majority of our members have their homes in Northe East Corfu, near Kassiopi and Aghios Stefanos. They (and their friends and guests) are therefore extremely concerned about the potential development by NCH Capital at Erimitis. As you will be aware Erimitis was owned by the Greek Government and there are no houses at all on this beautiful large peninsula, which is therefore an amazing oasis of green forest on the coast of Corfu, which is otherwise covered in houses and villages. Erimitis in its current state is in fact one of the major attractions of North Corfu, that helps brings in all the valuable tourists.
The previous government sold it for development as a hotel with multiple villas and apartments attached, and they gave planning permission for a very dense building plan without conducting any survey or enquiry of local opinion whatsoever. The proposed development is clearly totally out of sympathy with the current environment. It is fiercely resisted by most local Corfiots, who recognise that for all Corfu, and especially for this part of the island, the best strategy to promote the long term prosperity of the economy is to upgrade the quality of tourism, NOT to increase the quantity of tourists.
The members of the Association have contributed, and continue to contribute, hugely to the local economy. The NCH Development would not do this as, for example, the builders will not be local, and the guests will stay inside the development most of the time. The highly concentrated footprint of the planned hotel with apartments and associated villas will be totally out of character and destroy value for its neighbours. The pressure on local services such as waste management, the roads, and water supply – which are already struggling – will be unsupportable. The building phase of several years will, in itself, cause immense disruption, noise and damage. Access to the site is only possible on very narrow local roads.
You will be very aware of the growing global concern for the environment highlighted by the “climate crisis”. Developing a hotel, along the lines proposed, on the sight of this pristine and historic ecosystem, with the consequential damage to wildlife, to the sea, and to the natural forest would be an affront to all who care about the environment. I would expect widespread dismay amongst foreign friends of Greece around the world.
Prime Minister our members love Corfu and love Greece. This proposed development will desecrate a wonderful landscape and will be bad for the local economy and very bad for the long-term prosperity of North East Corfu. We hope your government will reverse the decision of your predecessors and prevent any development on the lines proposed. There is an opportunity here to amend the planning permission to allow only a very much smaller, but ‘up-market’, development that is truly sympathetic to the environment and to the local context. Done well, you could be in a position to showcase a development that was truly environmentally friendly and best in class, and thereby generate widespread international goodwill and prestige for Greece.
I hope you will indeed take this opportunity.
I am sending a copy of this letter to the Governor for the Ionian Islands region, and the Mayors of North and Cental Corfu. I have also released a copy to the media.
Corfu Owners Association