The federation of environmental NGOs (Opok) on Monday criticised the Limassol district administration for its failure to act over illegal constructions within the protected coastal area in Ayios Georgios Alamanou.

According to a written statement, the area in question is “the most important sea cave on the entire coast front from Cavo Pyla to Akrotiri,” and is home to the endangered Mediterranean monk seal and the protected Egyptian fruit bat.

The illegal structures are about 220 metres from the sea cave entrance, and Opok said that together with the environment department, they had logged complaints with the Limassol district administration in 2021.

The statement added that after asking for updates in mid-September 2022 it became clear that no action had been taken.

The initial complaints, made in July 2021, were about illegal construction and other interventions at the site of an existing restaurant.

These include an extension stretching into state land, within the protected beach area and registered riverbed, the instalment of spotlights, bungalows umbrellas and sunbeds as well as the planting of invasive foreign species.

Opok stressed that these projects are only 5-10 metres from the shore, and they occupy almost the entire pebble beach, which has not been approved for swimming.

In addition, the lack of a drainage network in the area could mean that the structure’s septic tanks are a potential source of pollution of bathing waters and the marine environment.

In its complaint, Opok had requested the removal of the constructions and the restoration of the natural environment, mainly within the designated Beach Protection Zone and the riverbed which crosses the east side of the block and flows into the sea.

Opok had also requested that the agriculture ministry declare the land as protected forest land and for the inclusion of the coastal and marine area in the Natura 2000 Network, based on the provisions of the law on the protection and management of nature and wildlife.

The statement said that a public consultation was called by the fisheries department on the declaration of the Ayios Georgios Alamanou area as a marine protected area between April and May 2022 but this “continues to be pending to this day”.

On July 30, 2021, the environment department published a follow-up addressed to the relevant authorities, including the agriculture ministry, fisheries department, forestry department and Limassol district administration, backing up Opok’s complaints.

The letter said that the environment department had not been consulted or notified about the construction projects, and that an inspector confirmed all of Opok’s claims.

It also said that its requests for planning permissions for the projects were not granted by the district administration at the time.