Residents of the Akamas communities will hold a protest on Tuesday outside the offices of the state environment service in Nicosia after the authority suggested changes to the local master plan that block any development of properties in and around the Natura 2000 network zone.
The Community Action for Akamas (KDA), an initiative launched by the communities of Neo Chorio, Droushia, Inia, Pano Arodes, Kato Arodes and the municipality of Polis Chrysochous, held a protest on Sunday in Inia against the proposed master plan which, they say, will lead the villages to further decline.
The group said that the environment service’s latest suggestions block any development of property, not just within the Natura 2000 area, but also of the entire area between the communities and the boundaries of the Natura network.
The initiative has already sent a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades and the competent ministers expressing their opposition against the master plan since it does not satisfy any of Inia’s demands.
They said they will protest in Nicosia on Tuesday when the revised master plan will be discussed and call for the removal of provisions they do not agree with. They will also attend later in the day the town planning council’s meeting as stakeholders.
Inia community leader Yiangos Tsivikos said if their demands are not met they will take more drastic measures.
Neo Chorio community leader Andreas Christodoulou Mahimos said that the EU directives on the Natura Network allow some development within such areas if the indicated procedures are followed.
He said that by generalising the situation the environmental authority bans development on a large expanse of land arguing that ‘it might’ or ‘could’ affect habitats, without specifying how and which habitats or species it would affect.
Mahimos also said that it was not fair that a “group of government technocrats” gets to decide the future of the permanent residents of the Akamas area.
“No plan can be enforced without the consent and acceptance of the local community,” he said.
Sunday’s protest was welcomed by the Akamas landowners’ association. They cited their constitutional right to property ownership and said that they have been led on by the government for 33 years, warning that they will never agree to seeing their properties’ value diminished with zero building coefficient and no compensatory incentives for loss of use for the past three decades.
For decades, communities in the Akamas peninsula and Polis Chrysochous whose areas fall within the EU Natura 2000 network have been pushing for more development, arguing that due to strict town planning regulations they have been unable to utilise their properties. They also argue that this leads to the decline of their area since young people opt to move to urban areas to seek employment, due to lack of prospects in their communities.