While Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis on Thursday expressed pride over finalising the Akamas local plan, Greens MP Charalambos Theopemtou warned its implementation may be a whole other story.
According to the interior ministry, the plan will be published in the government gazette on Friday.
“I am personally very satisfied with the plan and feel proud about it. It fully respects the rich nature of the area and gives the communities great opportunities,” Kadis told the state broadcaster.
The majority of the existing planning zones in this environmentally sensitive area are now upgraded as a result of the plan, which also envisions the creation of new ones, he explained.
On Wednesday, the cabinet decided to delay the plan which will now be implemented in six months, providing the new government time to flesh out two core goals: the social and financial parameters – including the compensation measures.
There is a four-month window for objections, but there will not be any substantiative changes, Kadis added.
One aspect of the plan is the creation of 28 plots of land that will allow for an easing of the rules for overnight stay.
Theopemptou however cautioned over what this will mean. “Does this entail a farm-like accommodation that doesn’t affect nature or luxury hotels with huge tennis fields?”
There is ample cause for concern because “what you start off with giving licences for, and what starts happening are two different things in Cyprus.”
Nonetheless Kadis said the plan could not deviate away from nature protection as “all of the EU’s eye were turned towards Akamas”.
On this specific point Theopemptou agreed. EU monitoring is the very reason that the environment department was able to resist pressures from other groups, Theopemptou said, as even if they had rubberstamped original versions of the plan, they would have had to deal with court cases.
“The EU rules are very clear about this.”
Kadis admitted there had been a lot of pushback from various groups – including business interests – however “in the end, nature was prioritised over business”.
He said he would have preferred if the compensation measures had been finalised in time for its publication “so this chapter can close”.
The compensation measures are linked to provisions in the plan that forbid development in certain zones in this sensitive environmental area and one of the few undeveloped coastal regions in Cyprus. Landowners have previously highlighted their property value has gone down to nothing after they fell into protected area zones for the past 33 years.