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Peloponnese Tourism Body Protests Against Wind Farm Plan on Mt Menalon

Stemnitsa village, Mt Menalon. Photo: Maria Paravantes

Tourism professionals in the Peloponnese are up in arms over a decision to create a wind farm between the traditional mountain villages of Stemnitsa and Chrisovitsi on Mt Menalon in Arcadia.

Citing the importance of the region’s natural habitat as well as of its key role in Greek history, the Peloponnese Tourism Organization is calling on Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) to revoke a January 1, 2021 decision which allows the installation of 54 wind turbines on Mount Menalon.

In its letter to RAE, the PTO is conveying “the strong opposition of the whole business and hospitality world but also of local inhabitants of the areas in question”.

“Professional tourism operators are taking a clear stance and opposing wind turbines, supporting the authenticity and uniqueness of the landscape, advocating soft and low-impact tourism development, preserving the aesthetics and biodiversity of the landscape and the sustainable tourism development of the region,” said the PTO.

According to the PTO, the same company is also planning to install 49 wind turbines as well as photovoltaics north of Mt Menalon, on the borders of the municipal units of the traditional villages of Vytina, Kleitoria and Kontovazena and 72 wind turbines in the area of Mount Lykaion and Andritsaina, on the borders of the municipal units of Gortinia and Megalopolis.

The entire region around Mt Menalon is one of the most important historically for Greece as it is here that the Greek Revolution – which is being celebrated this year – began. 

Mount Menalon is also the tallest and largest mountain in the Central Peloponnese and extends from the Tripoli plateau to the Lousios River, Megalopolis and Lake Ladonas.

Arcadia, Mt Menalon Photo Credit: Maria Paravantes

Besides attracting thousands of visitors each year from Greece and abroad and being home to a large returning diaspora population, Menalon also boasts the first certified hiking trail in Greece by the European Confederation of Hikers and the Menalon ski center.

One of the few remaining regions in Greece untouched by mass tourism, the Arcadia region is home to dozens of small and medium-sized tourism businesses contributing to local income and employment. According to an INSETE 2020 data, there are more than 180 small family businesses with a total capacity of about 2,000 beds, which employ more than 200 employees and rely on a number of parallel catering and leisure activities.

The Peloponnese Tourism Organization stresses that the decision to install wind farms in the Menalon area is not backed by detailed spatial planning requirements, while the needs, capabilities and problems of each area, available resources, human resources and development parameters have not been taken into account. 

It should be noted that contrary to government announcements, wind farm projects, which have mushroomed in Greece with no evident spatial planning studies and in key tourism areas, have repeatedly been taken to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court.

The PTO goes on to underline, that the decision comes in direct contrast with government announcements aiming to encourage and attract private investments in ecotourism and sustainable tourism development which necessitates respect for the landscape and biodiversity and conservation of traditional activities and products and not massive road openings, deforestation and installation of hundreds of wind turbine pillars. 

In the meantime, opposition groups, locals and tourism stakeholders  have circulated an online petition against the installation of wind turbines on Mt Menalon which is currently running here.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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