By Bejay Browne
THE community leader of a traditional village in the Akamas region is desperate to protect it from being the next victim of heavy quarrying, which he said has already destroyed an area close by.
Andreas Christodoulou, the community leader of Neo Chorio village in the Akamas region of Paphos, told the Sunday Mail that he had heard ‘unofficially’, that there may be a move in the pipeline to issue a licence to quarry close to Petratis gorge, an area of outstanding natural beauty and close to the village boundary.
He said he was determined to stop any moves in this direction before it’s too late, as similar interventions in Androlikou which is close by, have had disastrous results, ruining the countryside and causing residents to suffer.
“I don’t agree with allowing this to happen at all, this is such a beautiful area and the Akamas and its gorges are unique. We are determined to stop this and I really hope that all of the people come together to prevent this disaster.”
He added that this was a commercial business, and rock which has been quarried is sold on.
“We haven’t received an official paper yet regarding a new quarry, but we have received a reply to our complaint to the EU in 2015, that they are examining the matter,” he said.
The community leader said that he had written letters of complaint on behalf of the community about quarrying affecting Androlikou and Neo Chorio, to the EU and the minister of the interior in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
“We haven’t received a reply from the minister of the interior yet,” he said.
Christodoulou, along with the ‘Neo Chorio cultural group’ are calling on members of the public both Greek and English speakers, and those who live locally or elsewhere, to attend a meeting about the matter on Saturday April 9 at 6pm at the Neo Chorio community council offices.
Nikos Michaelides who lives in the village is a member of the ‘Neo Chorio cultural group’ and said that they also share the community leader’s concerns, and that these would be raised at the meeting.
“There are already a number of quarries at Androlikou which have had a devastating impact on the area, adversely affecting the villagers and decimated the environment,” he said. “We are trying to get the village people to support us and generally make everyone, whether they live in the area or not, aware of what might happen.”
He added that the community leader had invited representatives of the forestry department and the water department to attend the meeting and added that the idea is to get as many people as possible.
“If we have enough interest from non-Greek speakers, we will have a translator there for English speakers,” he said.
Michaelides said that the government makes excuses for excavations in the area, saying that they need the stone to make new wave barriers at Latsi and Paphos, but this is just an excuse he said. The stone is also used for wave breakers, sea walls and in building marinas, he noted.
“Quarrying at Petratis would be a disaster for the area, there would be a massive negative effect on nature, wildlife, birds and plants. They may say that they replant trees and so on, but they can’t recreate how the area was originally and they can’t put back the stone,” he said.
The resident said that a new quarry would also have a terrible effect on the village and village life, as there would be continuous explosions and excavations. He also said that he holds serious concerns about the effect a quarry would have on the stunning plateaus, and Petrakis gorge itself, which is home to a number of bats.
“Two or three years ago, there was drilling in the area to see what sort of stone was available and it seems it was suitable for them.”
Other groups such as ‘Friends of the Akamas’, ‘Save the coasts of Cyprus’ and other groups will be present at the meeting, he said.
“There are other solutions which could be used by the government, such as creating modern concrete barriers and it wouldn’t destroy the environment. But as I understand, this is a more costly option but at what cost; it’s far costlier in the long run.”
For further information: Nikos Michaelides 99313749
Neo Chorio community council: 26 321 558