Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said on Wednesday that the landfills at Kotsiatis and Vati would soon close thus ensuring the government should avoid being fined by the European Commission over delays in their closure.
The commission initiated infringement proceedings last week against Cyprus after it failed to meet the two-year deadline for closing the landfills which was imposed in 2013.
The European Court of Justice had censured Cyprus in July 2013 for not closing down the two landfills or rendering them compliant with EU requirements on waste. Kouyialis had said back then that the landfills should have been shut down in 2009, but that there were delays in the construction of waste disposal units that would replace them and the deadline was pushed to the end of 2015.
As regards the Kotsiatis landfill, he told the Cyprus News Agency on Wednesday that efforts are underway for the transfer of garbage to the sanitary landfill in Koshi where there is a waste-management plant. He added that procedures had been delayed following the bribery scandals and ensuing trials concerning the Koshi and Paphos sanitary landfills.
The agriculture ministry has already sent the European Commission its strategy and timeframe for the closing down Kotsiatis and Vati, Kouyialis said.
“Unfortunately, we are very delayed as regards the issue of Kotsiatis which is directly linked to the operation of the Koshi landfill,” Kouyialis said. He added that the commission has been informed of the problem and the background story.
The Vati landfill is expected to close in about a month, he said, following the operation of the new waste-management unit at Pentakomo.
“From then on, we will inform the commission, I have already informed the commissioner in charge,” he said.
The commission’s infringement proceedings were also issued against 13 other member states for their failure to report on the implementation of several EU waste rules. The proceedings concern missing reports on reaching targets under a number of directives concerning waste.
Kouyialis said that penalties vary according to each case, but that some countries have been slapped with a €30,000 daily fine.
“We are optimistic that we will be able to prove to the commission that we are taking the necessary steps and win a bit more time to end the operation of the Kotsiatis landfill,” he said.
He said the commission had shown understanding in the past.