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Court action on turtles

Greece faces action by the European Court of Justice for failing to protect the nesting sites of endangered turtles.

The announcement comes just as the 2014 turtle nesting season is about to begin and a case is citing the Greek government's failure to meet EU obligations is expected to come before the European Court later this year.

It alleges failure of the Greek government to protect nesting sites of the rare loggerhead sea turtle 'caretta caretta' on beaches of the southern Ionian Sea.

The issue mainly concerns turtle nesting beaches in Kyparissia Bay, in the Western Peloponnese, one of the most important nesting sites in the Mediterranean for loggerhead turtles.

Greece has come under continued criticism for failing to protect turtle nesting beaches throughout the Greek islands and notably in the popular tourist area of Laganas Bay in nearby .

The latest case in the European Court of Justice centres around the granting of building development permits in Kyparissia Bay that could have a 'significant negative effect' on turtles.

Tourist development has encroached on many turtle nesting sites all over the Greek Islands and the Greek government has come under heavy fire from environmental and animal welfare organisations for failing to do enough to protect important sites.

Greece promised two years ago to implement an action plan and timetable to meet its obligation to protect endangered wildlife under European law but has done little since.

The European Commission first raised concern over the situation in Kyparissia Bay in 2011, and a year later issued recommendations for the region which is part of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites.

The Commission claims construction work has gone ahead and building work continues despite the recommendation and that turtle nest sites are being bulldozed.

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