The forestry department has signed a contract with a private company for the lease of two helicopters to fight fires during the summer, the department announced on Friday.
The contract is valid for this and next year, with an option to renew it in 2021.
The amount to be paid per year is €1,599,250 excluding VAT, slightly less than last year.
According to the announcement, the forestry department will be responsible for the management of the contract while the fire services will have operational control.
A request to include the cost for the two leased helicopters in the newly created ‘rescEU transition’ is being prepared and will be submitted to the European Commission.
The Republic of Cyprus, under this mechanism, will receive financial support which may cover as much as 75 per cent of the cost for the fire-fighting aircraft.
The European Commission’s proposal to strengthen the EU’s collective response to natural disasters, rescEU entered into force on March 21.
Numerous disasters have affected regions of Europe in recent years, causing hundreds of casualties and billions in damage to infrastructure.
To protect member states better, “the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the Commission reached an agreement last December to strengthen the existing EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The upgraded EU Civil Protection Mechanism establishes a new European reserve of capacities (the so-called rescEU reserve), including firefighting planes and helicopters, while boosting disaster prevention and preparedness measures,” the European Commission said.
To ensure that Europe is prepared for this year’s forest fire season the new legislation includes a transition phase during which participating states can get funding in exchange for putting their firefighting means at the disposal of the EU.