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Cyprus

Conservationists slam government’s Akamas plan

Akamas

Conservationist group Friends of the Akamas on Monday criticised the government over its latest management plan for the peninsula, saying it failed to take into account the blueprint laid down by the environment department relating to protected areas.

The government had announced its plan last week, hailed by Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis as “the beginning of the realisation of a 30-year-dream”.

However, the non-governmental group said it failed to adopt the biggest part of the management plan for Natura2000 areas drafted by the environment and other state departments.

The government decided to “draft another management plan for the forest and (other) state property (which include 75 per cent of the Natura 2000 land areas in the Akamas) when the protection and management of these areas is self-evident,” the group said.

The government said last week it would present the plan to the stakeholders this Friday.

The group said the cabinet and the minister seemed to have not even bothered with the action plan prepared by the environment department and have also tasked the town-planning department to hurriedly prepare a plan covering only part of the peninsula “scandalously exempting Peyia.”

The Friends of the Akamas added that they had information suggesting a separate plan was being prepared for Peyia.

“Drafting a (town-planning) blueprint for part of the Akamas peninsula puts the carriage ahead of the horse since the environment and interior ministers have yet to issue orders for the protection and management of Natura2000 areas so that they act as an action guide for the town-planning department,” the group said.

It accused government and party officials, businesspeople, and their cohorts, of encouraging the communities in the area to demand development of Natura sites.

“At the same time they turn a deaf ear to agonising calls from the residents to carry out vital and useful projects in their communities that will create jobs and keep them there.”

The government declared all state-owned land in Akamas – around 75 per cent of the area – as a national forest park in 2016.

It stipulated however that private property will be excluded from the area designated as a national park and also allowed mild development.

This specific point satisfied landowners but stirred strong criticisms from environmentalists who argue that there is no such thing as mild development.

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