The island’s Technical Chamber (Etek) has criticised the “lawful” construction of villas in the Peyia sea caves area, describing it as a crime that started 20 years ago.
Etek said it all started in 1997 when the state granted a development company permission to separate 24 plots of land in an environmentally sensitive and beautiful area.
At the time, the chamber had tried to stop the process by appealing to the Supreme Court, which rejected it, arguing that protection of the environment was not included in its mandate.
Twenty years and at least two reviews of the development plans later, and the “criminal” zoning decisions of the past have not been rescinded, Etek said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, neither Cyprus’ accession to the EU, nor its environmental obligations… or of course its obligation to implement the Barcelona Protocol (not signed yet by Cyprus) on the sustainable management of coastal zones, were enough to prevent the crime being perpetrated against the coasts and our island’s natural environment,” Etek said.
Citing the lawfulness of the project reveals that “we are missing the substance” and have lost every inhibition and that the planning system has failed miserably.
Etek asked for a review of all the permits given in sensitive areas in the past and an investigation into how the area was included in a development zone.
Environmentalists are planning a protest outside parliament on Wednesday to protest over building in the area.
The partially submerged sea caves is a birthing habitat of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), which is listed as the most “critically endangered” marine mammal species in the Mediterranean by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)