Cyprus Mail
Guest ColumnistOpinion

How Protaras’ green beaches went brown and dusty

Green Bay' after the diggers moved in

Paralimni municipality is turning the Protaras coastline in a series of car parks without consulting residents

By Philip Beardwood

For at least five years, the Protaras sea shore within Paralimni municipality has been systematically environmentally ravaged by order of its mayor who seems amongst other things to be fascinated by the construction of churches.

He has displaced a sailing club to create more ‘wedding venues’ and provide large, shade free car parks near small beaches, requiring the removal of all existing vegetation in the process and leaving behind a sweltering, litter-strewn dust bowl.

All of this most often involves heavy rock breaking and excavation, using large earth moving machinery and laying down imported clay soil roads to enable more intensive vehicle access into these protected areas, with consequent further destruction and loss of declining plant species.

It is a separate issue as to whether Russian tourists paying 500 euros for two week, all-inclusive summer holidays in Cyprus can afford to rent cars or buggies whilst here, or whether the market for weddings all over Cyprus is endless. This mayor obviously thinks so and that it is worth all the destruction of the fast-declining natural environment, the very environment that attracted wealthier tourists to Cyprus in the first place.

What is at issue is the blatant flouting of the law, the complete lack of consultation with the district administration which is responsible for the seashore protection zone, (but do not seem concerned or involved) and similarly the total absence of any consultation with the permanent and seasonal residents who live nearby. It is their environment which is changing from rural to urban and who are subjected to the additional noise, dust, bonfire smoke and general disruption from the work.

How is this possible in a modern European democracy? The answer is simple, Protaras (to continue our example) is disenfranchised, the vast majority of those residents do not have the vote in local elections. This represents a huge imbalance, especially if you consider that the municipality and the district administration are paid for by the disenfranchised and are supposed to be responsible for the administration of the law and to provide other services for the benefit of the local population. Those residents pay both at a national and a local level, whether Cypriots or not. That obligation to pay arises from property ownership, but that ownership is not respected at all by the “authorities” and those employed by them. The residents of Protaras remain without dialogue, notice, consultation or communication with the town hall.

As a nation, supposedly keen to attract better tourists and wider investment, this is bad news and needs the immediate spotlight of Odysseas Michaelides, Ioanna Panagiotou and several of the relevant government ministries, unless of course the government is happy for this one sided behaviour to continue and constitute yet another degree of anger building that will eventually end in some form or other of “populist” expression against the established order.

There may be some humour in the Cyprus Tourist Organisation promoting ‘green beaches’ in conjunction with tour operators, on the one hand and the Paralimni municipality creating brown ones for Lefkosiades to park their cars at weekends instead of walking to the beach, on the other.

“No taxation without representation” started something somewhere else once and led to a massive loss for the oppressors.

 

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