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Cyprus

Environment law amendment ‘the final blow’, conservationists say

A LAW amendment on environmental impact assessments submitted by DISY, if passed, could be the final blow to the island’s environment, the Federation of Environmental Organisations (OPOK) have said.

According to the amendment, which was discussed at the House environment committee, the owners of specific development projects will be given the right to appeal to the Cabinet in the event they disagree with the changes proposed by the government’s environmental department so that town planning can give the green light for building permits.

The Cabinet will then have the right to decide whether changes suggested by the environmental department should be implemented or not, or to propose other measures aiming to alleviating or diminishing the consequences the proposed project might cause to the environment.

“The passing of such a proposal will be the final blow to the environment of such a small place where the margins for its protection have narrowed tremendously,” OPOK said.

OPOK said the amendment was not compatible with EU laws and negated the powers of the environmental impact assessment committee.

According to the OPOK, the amendment attempts to introduce political intervention in the evaluation processes on the environmental consequences from development projects.

The proposal could also deprive Cyprus of funds of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, it said.

Main opposition party AKEL, said that the amendment was an attempt to overrun authorities bestowed on government services and give more powers to the Cabinet in an attempt to serve private interests.

It also contravenes the EU Directive which provides that it is experts and not politicians who can make assessments on environmental consequences, AKEL said.

The proposal however, might not even make it past committee level.

“I believe this proposal opposes EU norms and after we are informed from legal services, we will decide accordingly whether to proceed with this law amendment or not,” the head of the committee Adamos Adamou said.

Defending the proposal, DISY head Averof Neophytou said that it was not aiming to serve the interests of big businessmen.

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