The relocation of the two Dali asphalt plants to the Koshi area has been delayed as the necessary studies to ensure the health of nearby residents in the new location have not been completed, the agriculture ministry said on Monday.

In response to a protest organised on Saturday by Dali residents against the continued operation of the asphalt plants in their area, which are causing noise and air pollution, the agriculture ministry issued a written statement explaining the reasons why the move, which was scheduled for March, has not been completed.

The delay, “is due to the fact that all the necessary studies and actions must be carried out, in order to ensure beyond any doubt that the operation of the units in the areas that will host them will have absolutely no impact on the inhabitants of the surrounding areas”.

Earlier this year, cabinet decided to move the plants near Koshi area in Larnaca, following a long-standing demand of Dali residents who have held numerous protests on the issue.

However, mayors of Larnaca, Aradippou and Lymbia have opposed the decision, saying that the specific area is already burdened by the waste management unit, and the storage of EAC wooden electricity poles that are permeated with toxic substances (creosote) and cannot handle another source of pollution.

The ministry added that additional studies are being carried out that were deemed necessary, “based on the positions of the university advisory group that has been involved in the issue”.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Dali’s mayor Leontios Kallenos said the delay was worrying as the ministry gave them a similar explanation during a meeting last August, but assured them the plants would move by March, which was later extended until the end of summer.

But “schools have started and the problem still persists,” which during the winter will be even more intense due to weather conditions in the area, the mayor explained.

“We know that the procedures are underway, but we are concerned about the long delay, even though we understand that it is a complex issue.”

Kallenos said that the community expects the process to move a bit faster from now on.

“We expect that the relevant bodies will work as fast as they can to implement cabinet’s decision, and not get stuck due to the bureaucracy,” he said.

Students of the Dali primary school also held a small protest last week by refusing to attend classes during the first day of the schools’ reopening on Monday.

“We understand the concerns of the residents of the area and assure them that we will continue to work hard towards a definitive solution to the problem as soon as possible,” the ministry said.

The recent protest attended MPs by various parties, including ruling Disy, with the agriculture ministry calling their participation an “oxymoron”, arguing that the same political parties they represent reacted against the installation of the plants in the new area.