The Akamas will not be bulldozed, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said on Monday following more protests over the weekend over the revised local plan for the area.
Speaking to CyBC radio, Kadis said that many exaggerations are being heard which have nothing to do with reality.
His comments came just a day after comments by Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, who said that “Everything that is being said about hotels and leisure centres within the Akamas national park is not true at all.”
The agriculture minister pointed out that no housing developments will take place within the Natura 2000 network area, which covers over 100 square kilometres in the region.
The suggested developments included in the plan are for kiosks and other facilities like toilets, he said.
In addition, Kadis insisted that the four farms provided for in the revised Akamas local plan are fully compatible with the operation of Natura 2000.
Finally, he stressed that the protection of nature is sacrosanct for his ministry and the government, assuring that the unique biodiversity of Akamas will not be endangered.
The plan drew strong reactions from environmentalists, who took to the streets for two Saturdays in a row to protest its contents.
Hundreds gathered in Nicosia on June 18 to demand the rejection of the plan, with the organisers saying it is “entirely incompatible with the aims of preserving our common natural and cultural heritage, as well as with the sustainable development of the local communities of the Akamas Peninsula”.
Another protest took place this Saturday in Paphos by environmentalists seeking more transparency from the government about its plan for the area and demanding the region remains free of development.
A second protest was organised by local landowners who have for years said they can do nothing with their properties due to a freeze on development resulting in the death of their villages.
The previous day, Nouris had said if the statements by the landowners and the environmental protesters were combined, the truth would be somewhere in the middle.
“We have listened to the concerns of those who protest, about the need – which I would like to emphasise – for the protection of the Akamas national park, but at the same time there is an undertaking of the government for specific initiatives in order to grant – let me say – social justice for those whose interests are affected,” the minister said.