By Angelos Anastasiou
Thirty-one residents of the area in the vicinity of the Aradippou industrial area have filed an appeal against the Republic of Cyprus over its decision to class a gold-refinery plant as ‘light industry’, spokeswoman for activist groups Larnaca-Aradippou-Krasas Residents Citizens Group and Larnaca in Action Elena Kallis said on Friday.
According to Kallis, a second appeal, this one against the Aradippou municipality’s decision to issue the plant a building permit, is expected to be filed next month.
“More than 30 residents of the Krasas area have expressed an interest in taking legal action by filing an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Republic of Cyprus – specifically, the Town-planning department,” Kallis said.
“The appeal was filed on Wednesday, January 20, and the plaintiffs claim they are being adversely affected by the decision to license the gold-processing plant in the Aradippou industrial area, and its designation from light to heavy industry.”
The refinery was issued a building permit by the Aradippou municipality in December, after weeks of controversy over potential health hazards posed by the heavy metals that could be released in case of an accident.
Before applying to the Aradippou municipal council for a building permit, the firm had secured all required permits from government departments – including the Town-planning department.
Kallis told the Cyprus Mail that, in approving the application, the Town-planning department changed its initial classification for the plant from heavy to light industry, without the required changes to its operation specs.
In the absence of the re-designation, she noted, the refinery could not be licensed because the Aradippou industrial area can only host light industries.
Kallis said that the suit was “taken on pro bono by the Christoforos Larkou law firm in Larnaca”.
“The plaintiffs believe they have a vested interest in the decision due to the proximity of the plant to their homes, and the state’s omission to hold the required public consultations with the residents impacted, prior to making the decision,” she said.
“A second lawsuit is expected to be filed in February, by 20 other individuals this time, having in mind that the law allows for the right to appeal within 75 days of the decision.”
However, she added, if residents feel they are being disturbed by the refinery’s operation, they will have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court against the owners of the plant.
“In case there are residents of the Aradippou, Larnaca, Krasas, Dromolaxia, or Meneou, that wish to resort to justice, they may contact the residents’ initiative group or the Christoforos Larkou law firm for further information,” Kallis said.