Scientific experts on Friday called for the mitigation of the current major problem of polluting factories in Mitsero before the scheduled relocation of a Tseri asphalt plant to the area.
Against the backdrop of protests by nearby residents, advisers from the University of Cyprus reiterated their opposition to the move, saying that assessment has shown the existing environmental nuisance in the area is already at “high and unacceptable levels”.
“The mitigation of existing nuisance to acceptable levels to ensure quality of life was, and still is, a prerequisite before any new project can be operated,” the team said in a written statement on Friday.
However, to the experts’ knowledge, no mitigation action has been taken to-date.
Their announcement came a day after the administrative court issued an injunction halting any work to relocate the asphalt plant to the Mitsero area, pending a hearing on the substance of the dispute. The order was granted following lengthy protests by residents of Mitsero and 11 nearby communities who oppose the relocation using the same argument the experts have made.
People living in the proximity where the factory will be located have complained that the area has too many nuisance factories and that both the environment and their health will be at risk. The communities in question are Mitsero, Kato Moni, Agrokipia, Agios Ioannis, Arediou, Malounta, Meniko, Orounta, Ayia Marina, Ayios Epiphanios, Kalo Chorio and Klirou.
Meanwhile, residents living near the factory’s previous location in Tseri, near Dali, had also held demonstrations demanding the suspension of its operation, citing air and noise pollution.
Cabinet approved the factory’s relocation, along with two other asphalt plants from Tseri and Geri in July 2020. The other two factories will be moved to Kalavasos and Koshi area.
“It is of utmost importance to regain the long-lost trust of citizens in the state’s ability to ensure that the conditions of project authorisation are met, especially for large projects with significant environmental impacts,” UCY’s advisory team said.
They added that the events which recently came to light “can only foster a lack of confidence in the state’s good track record”.
The group also called on the state to give ‘practical proof’ of its ability to comply with the licensing conditions of the existing nuisance projects in Mitsero, by establishing a monitoring team for the already licensed projects.
“In a modern EU member state, the government can only proceed with the implementation of any decisions it takes with respect for individuals’ rights, and with effective consultation and consensus of the social partners.”
The university’s advisory group has stated that it carries out its work “independently and without bias, making recommendations based on its internationally assessed scientific expertise.” It had previously expressed opposition to the relocation in November 2021, when it slammed the environment department for failing to provide them with a reasonable amount of time to present their views.
The group is comprised of Professor Marina Neophytou from the department of civil environmental engineering, who is the coordinator, Associate Professor Andreas Kyprianou and Associate Professor Loukas Louka from the department of mechanical and construction engineering, as well as Professor Michalis Petrou from the department of civil and environmental engineering.