Demonstrating residents of nine communities in the Vassiliko area on Monday blocked entry to the facility to protest the environmental degradation of the area.

Holding placards reading ‘Health and safety’, ‘Respect our children’s health’ and ‘Keep your promises!’, the residents did allow small number of essential workers in.

The demonstration was in response to the fire that broke out more than a week ago at a processing centre nearby filled with old tyres, which was already on the back of a series of grievances over environmental problems as a result of current and ongoing industrial development in the area.

“The area here has become Cyprus’ dumpster,” mayor of Tochni Pantelis Charalambous told Alpha television on Monday.

“The next demonstration will not look like this one. We are willing to provide time credit to the state, the president and the cabinet to lift their decision on the three asphalt factories and other factories [moving into the area]. The next demonstration will seek to shut down the energy centre indefinitely and we will not even allow security personnel to approach,” Charalambous added.

The demonstrators called for the immediate construction and operation of a fire station in the area, the scrapping of the cabinet’s decision to move asphalt factories into the Kalavasos industrial area and the discontinuing of issuance of factory licenses in the area.

The asphalt plants, originally located in the industrial areas of Geri and Tseri, are set to be relocated to Vasiliko as a result of a decision prohibiting their operation in Nicosia, but the Vasiliko residents have held several protests over the past months to stress their disagreement.

The residents further demand an investigation into the impact on the local population’s health from impending industrial upgrades while their coordination committee has given instructions to their legal advisor to take legal action against the responsible parties related to the fire.

Last week Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis visited the site of the fire and said he was sure things were not working properly, that the force of the wind should have been predicted and assured that “the investigation into the causes of the fire will be in depth and complete and that responsibilities will be attributed where they should.”

Vassiliko Cement said the minister’s comments were made “under stress and were and at the least unfortunate.”

Vasilikos area currently hosts the largest power station in the island, fuel terminals, a cement factory and a waste management plant also operates in the wider area.