ATHENS, May 12 (Reuters) - Greece will challenge a decision by the country's forestry authority that could slow a long-delayed 7.9 billion euros ($8.63 billion) investment project on Athens' riviera, an official with the country's privatisation agency said on Friday. Greece's forestry department announced on Thursday that 9 acres of the property are classified as a forest.
A consortium of Abu Dhabi and Chinese investors, led by Greece's Lamda, signed a deal in 2014 to develop a coastal area at the former Athens airport of Hellenikon, one of Europe's biggest real estate development projects.
But the investment in the 1,532 acre seaside site, a key part of Greece's privatisation drive under its latest bailout, has been fraught with delays as authorities drag their feet in demarcating the area and providing the necessary licensing.
"We will follow all available legal procedures to protect the investment. There will be an appeal," the privatisation agency official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Asked about delays in licensing Hellenikon, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told lawmakers on Thursday that the government would move ahead with the project but could not overrule independent authorities' procedures.
Under a deal with its EU/IMF lenders for the conclusion of a crucial bailout review last week, seen by Reuters, Athens needs to speed up Hellenikon investment and address any forestry and archaeological issues.
The government must also appoint a special committee of experts that will cooperate with the investors. ($1 = 0.9157 euros) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Susan Thomas)