By Evie Andreou
FOR the first time in 26 years, community leaders of the Akamas area expressed their satisfaction on Monday over government proposals for the peninsula.
Following a meeting with Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis, who presented them with the decisions taken last week by the ministerial committee for Akamas, most of the area’s community leaders said that it was the first time in a quarter of a century “a substantial effort is being made to solve the problem”.
The state had been at odds with Akamas communities since 1989 as various governments attempted to balance the need to preserve the area with the demands of land owners and residents to develop what is now classed as prime real estate.
The Akamas was named a protected natural habitat by Natura 2000, a network of protected areas within the EU, a move which displeased many of the residents who own land within its limits.
A master plan for the area has been on hold for 26 years because landowners could not agree with the government on the specifics. While the original master plan forbids any kind of development within the zone, the landowners asked to be allowed some exceptions.
Conservationists oppose any development within the nature reserve.
With the latest plan, approved by the ministerial committee last week, “the first step towards the unfreezing of private property in the Akamas area has been made,” Kouyialis said after the meeting.
He said that the decisions of the committee on the management of the Akamas peninsula is the creation of a national forest park which includes all the state-owned land in the area, and the review of the existing town planning system.
The development will take into account the Natura 2000 specifications and will also review previous cabinet decisions.
He did not elaborate on whether the long standing demand of the residents for mild development was satisfied. Last week though, he told the House environment committee that the objective is to highlight the area’s natural beauty and to develop the area in a sustainable way to attract visitors, but that “it does not mean that mild development is prohibited”.
Kouyialis said that around €8m will be given by the interior ministry between 2016 and 2018 for the revitalisation of the wider Akamas area.
He said that as soon as the cabinet approves the recommendations of the ministerial committee, a competition will be announced to hire a consultant that will design the national forest park, while the town planning service will be asked to redesign planning zones.