Officials are furious after it emerged that a request by a Paphos developer to legalise an illegal ‘limanaki’ or small marina built in Peyia in the 1990s has been granted by the council of ministers.
The decision only came to light this week but was made on January 2, according to daily Phileleftheros, which reported the move.
The decision has been condemned by Peyia mayor, Marinos Lambrou, who told the Cyprus Mail that he would be issuing a statement on Thursday.
Concerns were recently raised over coastline erosion which appears to be linked to the marina. Lambrou said previously that Leptos, the developers of the popular Coral Beach hotel in Peyia, maintained the marina without permission and both the coastline and other businesses were suffering the dire consequences.
The ‘small port’ was created at Laorou beach in front of the hotel a number of years ago and has since grown in size.
Greens MP, Charalambous Theopemptou, told the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday that such a move by the council of ministers can go ‘under the radar’ as it can take some time for the minutes of meetings to ‘get out’ and do not have to be published or a public announcement made. He said that in such instances, even before a construction is considered, an Environmental Impact Study, should be necessary before any green light is given.
“There should have been a study insisted upon before this was allowed, any problems have to be corrected before such a permit is given. In this case, the developer was just given a permit,” Theopemptou told the Cyprus Mail.
The Greens also issued a statement, on Wednesday condemning the cabinet’s decision to legalise the port, thus satisfying the request of the developers, Leptos Calypso Hotels Public Ltd.
The Greens said that in 1988, Leptos first created a parallel breakwater opposite the Coral Beach hotel, and then a shelter for vessels.
“The ultimate goal of the company is the creation of a marina for the exclusive interests of the company. All work was carried out without prior permission or a study, resulting in ongoing erosion of adjacent beaches,” the statement said.
In January, the Greens noted, the government approved the registration of the marine space as immovable property, creating berthing space.
At the same time, the minister of energy and tourism approved mooring space to Leptos under Article 8 of the Management Services Mooring Yacht Laws.
It also signed a contract with a long-term licence for the use of the area as a marina space by Leptos.
In 2017, Lambrou wrote to the auditor-general to clarify the status of the marina after a water sports accident in the area and amid calls to clear up the issue of the illegal operation of facilities meant for bathers.
“It is worth mentioning that recently the president of Disy, Averof Neophytou and Edek’s, Marinos Sizopoulos and finance minister, Harris Georgiades, played the gardener, at a recent event at this hotel, planting shrubs and pronouncing warmest praises of Leptos,” the Greens said. They were referring to a tree-planting event held at the Coral Beach two weeks ago.
They said the ministerial decision was arbitrary and served special interests.
“We agree with the mayor that the local authority has been overlooked again and ask the state to refrain from applying double standards and immediately revoke the decision. ”
Theopemptou added that he believes that the developer will now also try to ‘claim’ the beach as his own, using a law passed in Cyprus in 2017, much to the MP’s chagrin and despite his desperate attempts to drum up support against it.
“Unfortunately, in 2017, parliament took a decision that: if rocks are built into the sea to form a breakwater to protect boats from the rough sea, for example, or to extend land, that person/ persons, can claim the beach as his own private area.”
He added that the only limitation is that the public must have access ‘to pass through.’
“This is important, it means I can only use the beach to pass through it, I may not put my own umbrella there for example,” he said.
Theopemtou said that hoteliers seem to get ‘whatever they want’ and although he tried, in vain, to prevent this outcome, the major parties of Disy, Diko and Edek all backed this change to the law.