Europa Nostra alerts UNESCO about potential serious threats to the Delphi landscape

During Europa Nostra’s Board and Council Meetings that were held in Athens 18-19 June 2019, Europa Nostra was informed by its country representation “Elliniki Etairia – the Society for the Protection of Environment and Culture” about the potential serious threats that the revised Regional Spatial Plan for Central Greece (adopted in December 2018) poses to the World Heritage Site of Delphi and for the Delphic landscape.

Europa Nostra was also informed about the letter which Elliniki Etairia addressed to the World Heritage Centre on 8 April 2019, pleading for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Delphi to be inscribed on the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Europa Nostra shares the grave concern of our country representation in Greece, since this Revised Regional Spatial Plan contains maps and provisions allowing the operation of several new mining sites, the prospective construction of new and large wind farms and an intensive aquaculture site, all of which would have a negative impact on the preservation of the authenticity and integrity of the Delphic landscape.

Part of the Delphi landscape is protected by the buffer zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1987). An even larger part of this landscape has been protected by the Greek national legislation since 1981 (regrettably the initial boundaries of the protected zone were substantially reduced in 2012).
At the 43rd session World Heritage Committee that took place in 30 June – 10 July in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, Europa Nostra was represented by its Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and its Board member Laurent Levi-Strauss. They have raised this worrying development in discussion with the representatives of the World Heritage Centre.

Europa Nostra is especially concerned with the large number of wind farms which are already constructed or are planned to be constructed with a negative visual impact on the beauty and integrity of the Delphic cultural landscape. Equally alarming is the fact that the revised Regional Spatial Plan foresees the possibility for opening bauxite mining sites within the buffer zone of the Delphi site. We remain confident that the “no-go commitment” which the World Heritage Centre has signed with the ICMM will be applicable also for the World Heritage Site of Delphi and will help to stop any mining activities in this invaluable and highly protected cultural and natural site.

In the light of all these existing or potential threats, Europa Nostra believes that UNESCO should consider the need for extending the boundaries of the buffer zone of the Delphi site which has not yet been fully excavated and which should not be irreversibly and harmfully affected by any future mining activity or by large and very invasive wind farms.

Last but not least Europa Nostra would like to bring to the attention the fact that the SOC (Status of Conservation) status of the Delphi site dates back to 1993. This fact leads us to suspect that the construction of the already existing wind farms and fish farm sites was not notified to the WHC prior to their construction, and that the revision of the Regional Spatial Plan was not done in due consultation with UNESCO and/or ICOMOS.

Therefore, Europa Nostra strongly recommended to the World Heritage Centre to prepare for 2020 a new SOC report for the Delphi site, with the view of the site’s possible inscription on the World Heritage List in Danger, if the causes of our series concern are not removed.

In addition, Europa Nostra expresses the hope that the new Greek government, will be prepared to examine this dossier very closely and to take decisions which will ensure the highest level of protection of the Delphi site and of the surrounding Delphic landscape.

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