By Bejay Browne
AUTHORITIES in Tala village in Paphos have stopped development works on a hillside above the village, which they say is illegal and a blight on the landscape. It is also right next to the popular open air amphitheatre.
Work, which includes gauging out a large section of the hillside, burying large containers and creating an access track, has now been suspended following a court injunction.
The disfigurement can be clearly seen from as far away as the Paphos coastline in Kissonerga,
The owner of the land is Paphos lawyer, George Prodromou, the Russian Federation’s honorary consul in Cyprus.
Deputy mukhtar of Tala, Daniel Andreou, told the Sunday Mail the work on the land was illegal and no permission had been secured.
“It appears that the intention was to proceed with developing the area. Although it is on a steep hillside, it does come within the building zone,” said Andreou.
However, Andreou said that none of the necessary permits had been applied for and even if building permission was requested, this did not automatically ensure a green light.
“I presume he wanted to build villas, but we have stopped the construction, and now the owner says that he is only erecting a fence around his land which is his legal right, but this has not yet been done,” he said.
A strongly worded statement from Tala council has highlighted the level of dismay at the destruction.
“We are appalled by the destruction and damage caused to a prominent hillside in the village. The damage can be seen from the coastline and will, regrettably, be permanent,” the statement said.
According to a Tala councillor, who did not wish to be named, work started on the steep hillside plot about two weeks ago when an excavator dug out a large rectangular hole. Natural vegetation was also cleared away.
“The hillside has been destroyed and although Tala council managed to obtain an injunction, by the time it came through, the damage had been done,” she said.
The delay in issuing the injunction has angered the secretary of the Paphos Green party, Andreas Evlavis, who said it took the community leader days to get the work stopped.
“The order to cease should be given in one hour in such cases, not days, as the damage is now already done. The police should be able to stop such work immediately,” he said.
There are also concerns over why the containers have been buried and what they contain.
Three containers have been buried and joined lengthways while a site office has been created using the other two containers. A number of jumbled items including bookcases have also appeared at the site. The councillor said that she has no knowledge of what may be stored inside any of them.
“In addition to the destruction of the hillside, and possible problems further down the hillside in the event of heavy rainfall, there is also the possible contamination eventually from rusting containers,” she said.
A resident, who wished to remain unnamed, said that there were real concerns that during heavy rain, soil and stones will wash away, dragging the containers, their contents and other rubble onto the homes below.
“Also, this eyesore is right next to Tala amphitheatre which is being used for several Pafos2017 events, it should be removed and the hillside restored,” he said.
“No one is above the law, no matter who they are, and Tala needs to protect its countryside, nature and landscapes.”
A gate has been installed and, according to officials, has been positioned so that it is partly on someone else’s land, and partly obstructing a public road.
Tala council has appealed to the district office to take action.
“At the very least we trust that the relevant authorities will ensure that the dumped rubbish and containers are removed and the site put back, as far as it is possible, to its original state,” the statement from the council said.
The Sunday Mail was unable to reach George Prodromou for comment.