A proposed development of a five-star hotel and luxury villas in the environmentally sensitive area near the sea caves in Peyia has been given the nod of approval to go ahead by the environment department, it emerged on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the agriculture ministry, which heads the environment department, told the Cyprus Mail the approval had been given under conditions that some illegalities the company had carried out were reversed.
The proposed development by Korantina Ltd includes a five-star hotel with 168 rooms as well as 24 residences and 20 villas with swimming pools.
It is located next to the sea caves and archaeological site of Ayios Georgios, adjacent to Natura2000 areas. The Kafazis beach lies on the coast in front of where the hotel is set to be built should it receive all the necessary permits.
The procedure now requires illegalities spotted by the environmental department be reversed before a planning permit is issued.
They include rubbish found within Natura2000 areas and the Akamas national forest, pipelines found leading to the sea, a fishing net to trap reptiles and infrastructure for lights that has not been removed.
Greens MP Yiorgos Perdikis called on the government to declare the sea caves area a ‘white zone’ which would mean that for a short period of time no building permits would be issued or examined so the state could take decisions on protecting the area.
He said a complaint would be filed to the EU and his party is “completely opposed to and protests what today’s government is allowing to take place.”
The matter, which is set to be discussed during Wednesday’s House environment committee, is too late, Peyia mayor Marinos Lambrou told the Cyprus Mail.
The area which the proposed development is set to be built on belongs in a tourist zone which was declared as such in 1976, he said.
According to the mayor, this allows developments to go ahead. In a bid to protect the environment, certain conditions are set and compensatory measures are required of the company in favour of the public interest.
“If we forbid them from building, they’ll ask for compensation and then we’ll have to pay out millions.”
Lambrou said the land was purchased by Korantina for some €40m.
“If someone wanted to do something about this, they should have expropriated the area years ago. It’s a bit too late now.”
Protests over construction works near the Peyia sea caves have sparked demonstrations both on site and outside parliament on the day of President Nicos Anastasiades’ swearing in ceremony, two weeks ago.