THE chairman of Minoan Group has hailed a "giant step" forward for its long awaited resort development in Greece.

Christopher Egleton said he was delighted with the completion of the first stage of a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for its Crete project.

The document is now out for public consultation with that process closing at the end of March. If there are no objections the next step would be for a presidential decree to be issued, which would effectively give the project the green light.

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Mr Egleton said getting the SEA was similar to having outline planning consent in the UK while the presidential decree was more like a full regional plan. He pointed out a previous application for a much bigger project had passed the public consultation phase without any objections. If this one passes Mr Egleton is hopeful the presidential decree could follow within a month.

Speaking from Greece Mr Egleton said: "I very much hope we are going to have no problems with it."

When asked for a timescale of development work to begin Mr Egleton suggested it would be towards the end of 2014 "at the earliest".

Minoan wants to bring in partners to fund the more than £200 million it expects to need to build five hotels and a golf course across the 25,000 acres of the Crete coast it owns.

Separately Minoan said finance director Barry Bartman, 72, was stepping down this month but staying on as a non-executive.

Philip Poile has also joined Minoan to advise on potential hotel partners for the Crete project and other hotel opportunities in Greece.