Akamas communities on Thursday said they did not agree with the findings of a study on the environmental impact of the masterplan for the area, arguing that it does not take into consideration the real problems they face.
The Akamas Community Action group, representing the communities of Pano Arodes, Kato Arodes, Inia, Drousia, Androlikou, Neo Chorio, but also Polis Chrysochous and the Polis youth association, said they were not in agreement with the findings of the strategic environmental impact assessment (Smpe).
Community leaders said the study rejects several of their proposals as environmentally harmful, without proposing alternatives while it did not consider “the dire need for the area’s economic revitalisation.”
Inia community leader Yiangos Tsivikos said that none of the people who prepared the study were specialised in economics and especially in regional economic development. “Therefore, the proposals included in the Smpe do not guarantee the economic viability of the region,” he said.
He added that the study disagrees with several of the proposals of the town planning council prepared based on suggestions by residents but the researchers who prepared it do not substantiate their opinion.
Their suggestions for the creation of higher education centres, specialised medical centres, sports medical centres and research and development centres, were turned down as possible environmental problems, Tsivikos said, but no solutions were proposed. He said these proposed developments “could lead to a real revitalisation of the communities, through the creation of highly skilled jobs.”
Another issue pointed out, is that the study, “expresses an over-optimistic approach” to the population data of the masterplan area, which, they said, does not correspond to reality. They also said that the population data used in the study were misleading because the numbers used include not only locals but also people from other countries.
Citing data from the state statistical service, they point out that the Greek Cypriot population increased between 1960 and 2011 by 51 cent and in Paphos by 33 per cent. The Greek Cypriot residents of the Akamas villages, however, they said, decreased by 52 per cent, from 3,106 to 1,498.
“Our communities have been facing a population and demographic problem for many years, as the young population tends to leave the area to look for work in large urban centres,” said Neo Chorio community leader Andreas Mahimos. As a result, he said, the remaining population ages and slowly dies.
“A standing request of our communities is the inclusion in the Akamas masterplan of provisions that will allow the sustainable economic development of the area, in combination with the protection of the environment, so that our youth remain in their villages,” he added.
He pointed out that any of their proposals for development were being treated negatively while no substantial measures were being taken “to address the socio-economic exclusion of the people of Akamas.”
The decision for a masterplan for the Akamas area, taken almost a decade ago had raised hope it would put an end to three decades’ old dispute over the fate of the Akamas peninsula, after it was designated as a protected natural habitat within the Natura 2000 network.
The masterplan idea came after repeated rejection by landowners of government proposals for expropriation. Locals call for increase of the building coefficient and a mild development so that they can make use of their properties and attract more economic activity in their area which, they say, is slowly dying.