The illegal landfills at Kotsiatis and Vati will finally close down at the end of February, the environment department of the agriculture ministry announced on Friday.
“The definitive closure of the illegal landfills in Vati and Kotsiatis is part of the government’s broader environmental policy to reduce the uncontrolled disposal of waste in landfills and its proper utilisation and is an obligation of the Republic of Cyprus in the implementation of the European directives for management of waste,” the ministry said.
According to the statement, the environment department consulted the local authorities before finalising its decision and found solutions for the proper management of the waste in licensed facilities.
Access to the two landfills will be permanently closed and the public is urged not to enter the premises after February 28.
“Any waste disposal in these areas is prohibited and offenders will be subject to the provisions of the law with severe penalties,” the department warned.
The Kotsiatis rubbish dump was supposed to close in 2009. After a plan to build a separate waste-management plant in Nicosia was scrapped, it was decided to transfer rubbish from Kotsiatis to the Koshi plant in Larnaca. Procedures for this were delayed following the bribery scandals and ensuing trials concerning Helector, the company running Koshi and Paphos sanitary landfills.
The issue was even further delayed following constant rejections by the Central Committee on Changes and Claims (KEAA) of deals agreed between the government and Helector on the management of the Nicosia district’s garbage.
Cyprus was faced with fines over the delay to shut down the landfills, ordered by the EU in 2013.
After that, the EU repeatedly warned that the country would have to face steep fines if they did not close the landfills down.
In May 2017, the EU initiated an infringement process for the delays with Cyprus looking at fines of around €30,000 for each day of delay. But following a visit in October that year by European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella the EU gave the government more time.