Opposition Akel on Tuesday called on the government to cancel a decision by the previous administration regarding the leasing of state land for the construction of a golf course.

Head of Akel’s energy and environment desk Christina Nicolaou recalled that 10 days before the presidential elections, the then-incumbent government decided “through summary and opaque procedures, to grant state forest land for the development of golf courses in order to serve certain interests.”

The statement added that for years Akel had expressed its disagreement with “the handling and machinations of the Anastasiades-Disy government to create golf courses or other developments in either protected areas or within forest land…”

The party said that such projects must undergo environmental impact assessments as well as cumulative impact assessments “so that their real effect on the environment and society becomes apparent.

“But actions such as those of the previous government trample on every conceivable European and Cyprus environmental law.”

Akel said the current administration of Nikos Christodoulides must cancel that prior decision, as the process of granting state land by direct award is “non-transparent and does not ensure the public interest.

“Otherwise, the government should prepare to suffer the consequences of violating EU law. Prior to the elections Nikos Christodoulides had pledged to meet all obligations arising from the EU acquis in relation to protecting the environment. He also pledged to deliver a transparent, accountable and effective state. We expect him to live up to his commitments.”

Last week it was reported that the administration of Nicos Anastasiades had decided to lease land in Famagusta for the creation of a golf course without going through a tenders process.

The cabinet decision was taken on January 26 – just days ahead of the presidential elections.

According to daily Phileleftheros, which broke the story, the decision was not published in the government gazette.

The land granted to Ayia Napa Forest Golf Ltd included the forest land of Ayioi Saranta, Mana tou Nera and Arkakouthkia in Paralimni municipality.

Reportedly the decision was based, among others, on the fact that there was no other suitable available land in the area, thus the Anastasiades government considered it to be of exceptional importance that served the ‘public interest’.

Commenting on those reports, new Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said he’d look into the matter.