Any discussion on the possible creation of a new quarry in the Larnaca district has been put on hold until the end of next year, it was decided on Thursday following a backlash over the possible cutting down of thousands of trees.
At a meeting attended by the agriculture minister, the directors or representatives of the geological survey department, the mining service, the forestry and environment departments, the authorities decided to utilise a study on the sustainable development of mineral resources for the period up to 2050 as a basis for a decision on a new mineral resource policy.
The study, expected to be completed by the end of 2021, will examine all issues related to mineral resources with particular emphasis on issues of the circular economy and recycling, new industry practices, as well as the modernisation of the quarry licensing process.
The authorities will re-evaluate their options regarding the creation of a new quarry based on the resulting data, rather than simply follow a strategic environmental assessment the geological survey department prepared, which was meant to address the long-term needs of the Larnaca district.
Two weeks ago, the department disclosed details of the strategic assessment which were greeted with public outrage.
At the time, media reports said that areas proposed for the new quarry were either Vavatsinia, where 15,000 trees were expected to be cut, Pano Lefkara (7,250 trees), or even worse, Delikipos where 20,000 trees would be sacrificed. A fourth scenario was also mentioned, by which 6,900 trees were going to be removed.
The director of the geological survey department Costas Constantinou said at the time the information was misinterpreted and explained the plans were at the strategic level, aimed at identifying areas suitable for quarrying long-term, for the next 50 years.
“It is a way to plan ahead of time with the aim to cover the needs of the industry while minimising the damage to the environment,” he said.
However, the government has now decided to wait for the new study before making any decisions.