Dust, noise and the potential risks involved in handling asbestos will inconvenience residents close to the former British military Berengaria camp, but demolition must go ahead, the government’s Public Works Department has said.
Τhe department’s final report on the impact of tearing down the installation in Kato Polemidia, Limassol, would have on the environment has been delivered to the Environment Service for final sign-off, with a view to creating an environmentally friendly area for development by the government.
A key factor necessitating the removal of the structures, the report said, is the existence of asbestos.
Further, the derelict buildings have become a host for rodents, serpents and insects.
Bought by the British ministry of defence in the 1950s, the Berengaria estate was kept for military use as a retained site under the Treaty of Establishment when the Republic was formed in 1960.
Its total enclosed area of 260,000 square metres and 194 structures included 200 houses, a school, a community centre, a medical centre, a YMCA, library, messes, shops and three churches, built between April 1955 and September 1957.
Military personnel and their families moved from Berengaria in 2000 to a new housing estate further west within the larger Episkopi base area.
The asbestos clearing work is expected to cost around €9m.
Various health and safety measures during removal have been proposed by the department, so that workers and the local populace are not placed in undue risk.
These include enclosing the site throughout the duration of works, keeping materials that contain asbestos wet at all times, favouring manually operated tools over electric ones, and using individual breathing masks.
Further, the government needs to make sure that the contractor that will undertake the removal of materials is properly licensed and staff adequately trained.
The contractor will also undertake the safe keeping of hazardous materials on-site, until such time as they are properly disposed of.
Additionally, the public works department said, removal work near the area’s public school and nursery should be done outside their normal working hours.
Various stakeholders have expressed interest in developing the Berengaria area.
A government-commissioned study has proposed that the land be sold to land developers for €26 million.
The Kato Polemidia municipality is also interested in exploiting the area to create a park and green area.
Additionally, the Limassol-based technical university Tepak would like to create a campus where Berengaria now stands.
Communication and works minister Marios Demetriades said last year that removal of the Berengaria installation will take approximately three years.