By Constantinos Psillides
RURAL communities’ insistence in dumping garbage at unlicensed landfills will result in Cyprus being slapped with a fine by the European Union for failure to conform to rules and regulations regarding rubbish disposal, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos has said.
Hasikos warned that the fine might go up to €10,000 daily, for every day Cyprus is not conforming with EU regulations.
This was not the first time the ministry warned about the possibility of a fine, since Cyprus failed to adhere to EU regulations and close down all landfills and replace them with waste disposal facilities.
The minister said that currently 43 unlicensed landfills were in operation throughout the island.
Cyprus has only two licenced landfills, one in Kotsiatis and the other at Vati. The licensed landfills are located in Nicosia and Limassol district respectively.
An official with the Union of Cyprus Municipalities (UCM) told the Cyprus Mail that the problem mainly lies with rural communities and to a lesser extent to major urban areas.
“What happens is that garbage collectors prefer to dump rubbish in an area near them. Somewhere that is convenient. They don’t want to drive all the way up to Kotsiatis or Vati,” said the official.
Rural communities collaborate with each other to set up garbage collection. The collectors in remote areas are largely unmonitored as they only answer to local authorities, according to the UCM official.
Hasikos warned those present at a meeting of concerned parties that Cyprus was running the risk of losing credibility in the EU since ‘officially’ there are only two landfills in Cyprus. However the authorities have documented proof of 43 illegal dumps.
Hasikos ordered local authorities to conform to the regulations and set-up a task force to monitor the situation and report on any deviations.
The UCM official said that local authorities lay a small sum for the right to use the designated landfills, with the exception of Larnaca and Famagusta districts. Those two districts are serviced by the waste disposal facility at Koshi – at a higher disposal fees than other districts. Hasikos has attacked the deal signed by the previous administration with the waste disposal unit, going as far as to appoint an investigator to look into a possible scandal.
The government is also trying to shut down Vati and is currently in the middle of a tender process to set up a waste disposal facility that will service the Limassol district.
According to the EU landfill directive, EU members must replace landfills with waste disposal facilities or keep the landfills at a bare minimum, so as to decrease the negative effects to the environment.