Does Crete need more golf courses?
In case you haven’t spotted this – there is a major investment plan to create a large ‘up-market’ holiday village/second-home/golfing resort in one of the wildest parts of north-east Crete, not far from Sitia.
The spot in question is 26 square kilometres of what is now a wilderness, on which a development company intends to build five 5* hotels (with 2,500 beds), 3 golf courses, conference and exhibition facilities, 474 villas, 495 townhouses and apartments, water-sports facilities etc etc.
It is an area of tremendous natural importance (it intersects with the palm groves of Vai, the only ‘natural’ European palm groves) and is a Natura conservation area. Not to mention its archaeological importance – preserving rare and precious traces of cultivation and agricultural systems from two millennia ago.
I can be suspicious of campaigns against such developments – often snobbish campaigns by intellectuals against what they see as more plebeian forms of enjoyment, and against the financial interests of the locals, who would rather bring money into their area than continue in the life-style of romantic (to everyone else that is) peasant.
And sure, this particular campaign has its self interested moments. The interesting article in the Guardian, for example, to which the ‘anti’-petition directs potential signatories is actually written by the petition’s organisers. That said, the campaign as a whole seems a good one, and I hope you’ll have a look and think about signing the on-line protest.
The case, for and against, comes to the Greek courts in early November. So hurry.
What really irritates me is the spuriousness, and slickness, of the stuff put out by the development company – which is full of charming pseudo-watercolours of traditional Cretan village scenes, about to be recreated. Plus the claims for sustainability.
But hang-on. How on earth can they say that the second home market in Crete is “untapped”? Haven’t they visited Almirida or watched day-time tv….which, until the crunch, used to be all about second homes on Crete. And how can they really bang on about sustainability, when the whole enterprise is predicated on the new airport at Sitia and being 3.5 hours away from the UK?
It’s the fact that the Brits are explicitly targeted as the potential customers that makes it more than usually legitimate to protest against another country’s schemes. If we don’t want it, let them know.
And does Crete really need three more golf courses (even if the low watering variety)?
I hope that if the Greek courts don’t do their bit, the credit crunch will. It must have its good side.