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Peyia to hold open meeting on temporary halt to development (Updated)

Protesters at the site of development of the Peyia seacaves (Photo: Linda James)

An ‘all Peyia public meeting’ will be held in the centre of the village on Sunday afternoon to present an official briefing to the public concerning a proposed ‘white zone’ suggested by Green party MP George Perdikis and opposed by most of the council.

Following public outrage over recent development of the area, Perdikis called on the government to declare the sea caves and much of the coastline a ‘white zone’. This would mean that for a short period of time no building permits would be issued or examined so the state could take decisions on protecting the area.

He also said that the Greens would lodge a complaint with the EU.

However, local councillor and Green Party member Linda Leblanc said Peyia council is totally opposed to this move and that she is the exception.

It was decided to call the public meeting following an extraordinary council meeting organised on Thursday afternoon by Peyia Mayor Marinos Lambrou to discuss the development at the sea caves.

“The council are against the idea of Natura 2000 along the coastline and it being a white zone, they want to develop it,” Leblanc said.

The public has been angered over environmental damage at the sea caves, which are a birthing spot for the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (monachus monachus). Photographs claiming to have been taken recently and to show a mother seal and her pup are also going viral on social media.

Leblanc noted that long delays for a masterplan for the area, which would incorporate all of the necessary studies and zones and what kind of development is wanted, have led to this ‘middle place’, where they are in limbo and yet building is going ahead, she said.

“I am not against development as such, but it has to be done properly, with studies, a masterplan and without a devastating impact on an environmentally protected area,” she said.

According to Leblanc, councillors are concerned that a white zone could be in place for years and that they would then be ‘stuck with it, like the Akamas’. However, she pointed out that this is not the case and the zone would be in place only until after proper environmental studies had been carried out and conclusions reached.

Perdikis has proposed the zone should extend along the coastline from Ayios Giorgos to Coral Bay, something which has angered the council, she said.

The mayor also briefed the council as a result of a meeting held in Nicosia on Wednesday, where Lambrou told MPs that Peyia was ‘under attack’ over its development projects, and later admitted that as a civil engineer he had undertaken work for one of the developers there.

Lambrou said he supported the development of Peyia, as well as a project to build a five-star eight-floor hotel which has apparently been given the green light by the environment department.

The meeting for Peyia residents will take place on Sunday at 5pm in the centre of Peyia village close to the kafeneios, and the mayor will make an address in both Greek and English.

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