The long, drawn-out discussions over the controversial relocation of asphalt plants to the Mitsero and Vasiliko area continued during Wednesday’s session of the House Environment Committee, after Vasiliko and Mitsero area community leaders agreed to allow the government an extension until October to come up with a solution.
“Nine years after the first protests we had about the operation of the asphalt plants in the area of Dali, still in 2022 we are discussing the same issue,” Charalambos Theopemptou, who is the committee president, said.
The relocation of the asphalt factories was decided following a cabinet decision in 2020 to move three plants from the Tseri and Geri (Dali) area. These are expected to be relocated to the Mitsero, Kalavasos and Koshi areas, affecting numerous communities in the Vasiliko and Mitsero areas.
Theopemptou argued that the state had to do its research and move the asphalt plant from the Dali area to a “well-thought-out area”.
Ruling Disy MP Prodromos Alambritis said that the area of Mitsero as well as the area of Vasilikos are particularly environmentally burdened and welcomed the initiative by President Nicos Anastasiades to convene a meeting so that in the near future “the necessary checks will be made to correct the wrongs in the area”.
Meanwhile, opposition Akel MP Christos Christofides remarked that after two years of struggles by the residents of the communities of the wider area of Mitsero, the government and the president have finally decided that the area there is very environmentally burdened and cannot house the transfer of the asphalt plant, unless wider changes are made.
A critical Christofides also claimed that an organised effort was made to turn the residents of the wider area of Yeri and Dali against the residents of Mitsero on the pretext that the reason why the factory is not moved from Dali is because there is a reaction to it going to Mitsero.
“If during the two years of delays and perseverance by the government and the ruling party to take the factory to Mitsero, other commonly accepted solutions were sought in places that had been indicated away from residential areas at this time, we would have a transfer of the factories and the residents of the wider area of Dali and Geri would not be victimised,” he added.
For his part, Depa MP Alekos Tryfonides said that it has been proven both after the meeting at the Presidential Palace and after the meeting of the Environment Committee that the arguments put forward by the residents of the area are absolutely correct and added that the presidential meeting highlighted the huge problems the area faced, from the burdened nuisance and the other situations prevailing in the area of Mitsero either with the pig farms or with the quarries.
Tryfonides called on the government to revoke the planning permits and building permits it gave to the area of Mitsero, “to proceed with all the improvement actions to alleviate the problems and to find an area to establish all these intrusive industries that do not affect any citizen of the Republic of Cyprus”.
Meanwhile, Mitsero community leader Andreas Kyriacou said that the community felt vindicated in their fight, and added that he heard with surprise the government services admit before the Environment Committee that the Mitsero was not among the areas in the Council of Ministers’ decision for the movement of the asphalt plant and that the material used for the production of asphalt was not produced from the quarries of Mitsero.
“These two elements confirm why we are protesting (that it is) an unfair and voluntary decision to move the asphalt plant to Mitsero,” he said, adding that they will continue their fight to revoke the two permits, planning and building.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the company Prometheas Asphalt Ltd, it claimed that its factories have never violated the environmental controls during their operation and there has always been respect for the obligations and full cooperation with the competent authorities, the Environment Department and the Department of Labour Inspection, “whose instructions they faithfully follow”.
“Since March 2022, our factories in Tseri have not been operating for even a minute, the residents of the Idalion area who complained of odours and nuisance resulting in the issuance of the Decree and the closure of us, continue to have the same complaints and sent letters to the President and the Attorney General. This means that the problem has never been our own factories and today we are the only company in Cyprus that has closed all the factories,” the statement reads.
It added that the company is probably the only company that, while it has secured a building permit for the production of asphalt, “we are not allowed to operate”.