By Bejay Browne
A PETITION to try to stop the luxury development of Limni, near Polis Chrysochous in Paphos has already garnered over one thousand signatures.
The petition was started just last week by nature lover Constantinos Nadiotis, 36, and is being sent to minister of the interior, Socratis Hasikos.
“I want my children – I have a son who is ten and a daughter of four – to be able to experience the beautiful area which is being destroyed. “said Nadiotis from Limassol.
The project includes two 18-hole golf courses, a five star hotel, luxury villas, a wellness centre, a helipad, a museum and an information centre on the turtles, as well as cycle paths.
Once the site of copper mines, it was bought 30 years ago by the Shacolas Group of Companies, the biggest private commercial group in Cyprus. It plans to develop about three million square metres at Limni.
As an experienced free diver Nadiotis says he enjoys nothing more than diving with the turtles in the Limni area.
“The next generation needs to be able to enjoy the beautiful nature we have here in Cyprus and have the best experiences possible. This area is supposed to be a nature reserve – but it’s all about business and manipulation of the law by the relevant authorities.”
The huge development is considered by many locals, including the mayor of Polis, to be a welcome boost to the economy, but many nature lovers, environmentalists and locals are concerned about the multi million euro development, which they say will cause harm and endanger the turtle population.
The area from Yialia to Polis is a major nesting site of the Loggerhead turtles and it has been included in the Natura 2000 network (known as the Polis-Yialia site).
“I know that this petition will probably have no impact as the decision has already been taken to go ahead with the project, nothing will stop this investment now. But I had to do something,” Nadiotis.
Recent statements that the environment is being protected have done little to allay fears with the Green party saying that the works would affect the breeding sites of the turtles.
Thousands of turtles come to breed in the area every year and lay their eggs in nests which stretch the length of the coastline.
The foundation stone of the ambitious project was laid a few months ago by former president, Demetris Christofias, who said at the time that buying the site of the disused mines in 1983 showed “entrepreneurial foresight”.
Former commissioner for the environment Charalambous Theopemptou said that some months ago when he was still commissioner, the company had cut trees and cleared the area.
“There was an emergency meeting called at parliament and they made promises and said that they wouldn’t do it again. But now, after everything has quieted down, they are doing it again,” he said, adding that it raised some worrying questions.
“Why are they doing works on the beach, what are they are doing there. It’s very worrying when bulldozers move in on the beach. I haven’t seen the project drawings but I’m very concerned.”
Theopemptou added: “I have always been opposed to these kinds of golf courses and marine developments. Why do we need to have golf courses with villas and buildings around them? Hills and mountains are demolished to get rocks needed to build these areas.
The former commissioner believes that the project at Limni will see the beach being extended.
“This area is the most frequently used beach by the turtles, even more so than Lara beach further down the coast.”
Conservation groups have voiced concerns that the turtles will not be adequately protected as the protected site is too small and measures to protect the environment are not enough.
“The law says that a specific environmental impact study must be undertaken. But it lets companies chose who will carry out the study, so of course if you are paying someone they are likely to be sympathetic,” Theopemptou said.
“I tried to change the law but to no avail.”
Despite attempts by the Sunday Mail to obtain a response from the Shacolas group on the petition and the concerns raised over the turtles, they declined to comment.
A spokesperson said: “We have nothing to add to previous comments regarding Limni at the moment, only to say that everything has been carried out according to the law.”
To sign the petition visit: http://www.change.org/petitions/cyprus-minister-of-internal-affairs-mr-socratis-hasikos-stop-the-development-of-the-limni-site-for-the-golf-course-and-villas-complex?utm_campaign=share_button_mobile&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition