By Bejay Browne
CLIMATE change could be the reason for conditions which have led to drastic coastal erosion at a popular Polis beach, and experts say bad weather which battered the island has caused the worst erosion witnessed for at least twenty years.
“It was very strange phenomena. The winds and the waves were very strong, the worst ever. The wind measurements indicated very strong winds and this generates waves. There is a possibility that it could happen again,” said the head of the public works department’s coastal engineers, Stelios Zevros.
“We don’t know the reasons for this, it could be climate change.”
But one of the worst affected areas is the popular campsite beach in Polis, which, just weeks ago, saw around 200 metres of a beachside walkway destroyed in a matter of days. The remainder is still being affected, according to the mayor of Polis, Angelos Georgiou.
Experts say that the ongoing erosion can only be solved by creating ten wave breakers along the coast at a cost of around 5.5 million euros. According to Zevros, the process to construct the breakers is moving ahead and necessary red tape will be completed within a week.
The tender process for the project will then be announced and construction will get underway in October-November this year, he said.
The wave breakers will provide much needed relief for the stretch of coastline which runs from the Polis municipal beach at Latsi to the campsite, an area of outstanding natural beauty and home to a grove of eucalyptus trees. In the warmer months it is a favourite destination with campers and beach goers from all over the world.
Ahead of the construction works, Georgiou said that the area would be ‘tidied up’ for the tourist season. The municipality has been advised to remove the damaged blocks and wait until the wave breaker project gets underway.
“We can only give advice on how to fix the problem, the funds come from elsewhere. The only measures which will alleviate the problem is the construction of ten breakwaters which will manage and control the erosion,” said Zevros.
Georgiou said coastal erosion at Polis bay urgently needed to be rectified. He said that the first phase of wave barriers – the four by Latsi port – had shown how efficient and effective they were in protecting the coast from erosion and improving the beaches.
Erosion has affected this coastline for years. Only last May and June, sand had to be pumped back onto Polis campsite beach and one near Latsi after huge chunks of the beaches disappeared within days as stretches of sand were literally sliced away in late December 2013.
“Last year, the area suffered and we undertook some temporary measures. There was nourishment of the beach but the sand has been removed again this year and the erosion has extended further up and destroyed the walkway,” said Zevros.
The 5.5 million euro price tag will be partly covered by the EU under an environment programme to protect the area with 25 per cent covered by the municipality.
Zevros said that the ten wave breakers will take around two and a half years to construct. He said that included a mandatory break from work during the summer months, so as not to disturb tourists. However work could be speeded up if viable, he said.
“If the municipality give them permission and they are able to work in an area which won’t disturb tourists, they will then be able to work through that period.”
He noted that said the master plan for protecting the coastline included the construction of 14 breakwaters.
So far, only the four at Latsi port had been erected. Phase one was completed in 2010 and phase two, which would run from the last breaker up to the campsite at Polis, should have commenced immediately afterwards, according to the official.
“This is the last part of the programme for the area and is much needed to curb the devastation of a beautiful coastline.”