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Ayia Napa municipality acted with impunity

makronissos beach
They destroyed the sand dunes on Makronissos beach and nobody will do anything about it

By Efi Xanthou

Significant damage was wrought on the sand dunes of Makronissos beach in Ayia Napa when bulldozers entered the forest area by the archaeological site on November 25 but were stopped in their tracks by Forestry Department personnel.

The situation was very awkward, since the bulldozers were ordered to enter this protected and highly significant environmental area by none other than the Ayia Napa municipality. So, one branch of the government had to confront another branch for infringing the law. Crisis was supposedly averted, and the bulldozers were turned away.

Unfortunately, the Ayia Napa municipality decided that they would not be thwarted, and they ordered the bulldozers in during the weekend of November 26 and 27. They eradicated the sand dunes and all the wildlife flora that they supported. Many “Red Bible” species were destroyed, and there is no way to restore the sand dunes to their previous situation.

The municipality had obviously decided to increase its waterfront area in the highly popular Makronissos beach, and decided that they didn’t give a fig about the international and European treaties that they infringed, the various national legislations they violated and the fact that they simply do not have the right to trespass on forestry land, even if it is within the Ayia Napa municipal boundaries.

It is not the first time that the Ayia Napa municipality has violated legislation concerning protected coastal areas. Since September 2014 the auditor-general has stated multiple infringements by almost all the coastal municipalities and communities concerning the placement of sunbeds on their respective coastal area. And the 2014 report specifically stated that the municipality had placed more sunbeds than those allocated on the specific beach by the ‘coastal committee’, which is responsible for the issuing of permits for organised beaches. Has anything changed since then? Has the district officer of Famagusta clamped down on the municipality? Has the coastal committee ever checked if the beach plans they approve are adhered to? Has the interior minister demanded that all coastal local authorities respect the protected coastal zone and the approved beach plans?

So, we come back to the infringement of the Forestry Department land on the coastal zone of Makronissos. The Ayia Napa municipality eradicated the sand dunes. What happens next? I’ll mention what can be done according to the law and we will see what will happen in reality.

The Forestry Department has to report the municipality for trespassing on its land and for the environmental destruction it incurred. These reports need to be addressed to various departments, each for its own purview: to the district officer of Famagusta for the infringement on the coastal area and to the attorney general concerning the trespassing and violation of the legislation “For the protection of the Environment through the Penal Code of 2012”. Complaints should also be made to the Environment Department for the environmental destruction incurred. The interior ministry should also investigate the infringement of the municipality and whether the actions were the decision of the mayor or the municipal council as a whole. And finally the auditor general should investigate the misuse of government land and expenses incurred by all parties.

Unfortunately, I fear that none of the above suggestions will take place, and nobody will be asked to account for their actions. Or lack thereof.

The municipality of Ayia Napa proceeded to destroy an environmentally sensitive area because they simply knew that they could, without impunity.

 

Efi Xanthou is a political scientist and the Coordinator of the Interior Committee for the Cyprus Greens-Citizens Cooperation, [email protected]

 

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