A petition to prevent the construction of the Paphos to Polis highway that was launched by BirdLife Cyprus was handed in at the presidential palace on Tuesday to be passed on to the president.
The petition garnered around 2,500 signatures and was handed in to deputy minister to the President Vasilis Palmas.
BirdLife Cyprus launched the online petition in September to bring attention to the Ezousa Valley, a protected Natura 2000 site threatened by the construction of the new road. In addition, iconic bird species such as the Bonelli’s Eagle, Long-Legged Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and the Roller will also be adversely affected, according to BirdLife Cyprus.
Despite the findings of an environmental impact assessment study,the council of ministers declared the road a public interest project and a state tender has been opened for its construction. The deadline is Friday.
Supporters of the petition are calling on the president and the ministers of, agriculture, finance, interior and transport to cancel the decision approving the road as a public interest project, along with the state tender.
Instead, they urge the government to upgrade the existing road.
“BirdLife Cyprus believes that the ministerial decision concerning the Paphos to Polis Chrysochous motorway amounts to a deeply flawed excuse for putting an economically, socially and ecologically damaging ‘development’ above any real public good,” they said.
They believe upgrading the road is a clear alternative, which was not even considered, with ‘past political decisions’ the only pretext for ignoring what is also cheaper option. In addition, they said the project has a hefty price tag, with the first phase (half the highway) costing €70 million alone. This amount does not include the added cost of land expropriation.
The ecological impact of the new 31km road will be hugely detrimental, as it will require at least five bridges and two tunnels and will slice through an untouched landscape of high ecological value. This includes the protected site of Ezousa Valley.
“Iconic bird species such as the Bonelli’s Eagle, the Long-legged Buzzard, the Peregrine Falcon, the European Roller as well as the endemic species of Cyprus Wheatear and Cyprus Warbler will suffer a major blow, mainly due to disturbance and loss of a significant habitat,” Birdlife said.