The environment department on Tuesday said it has requested additional information about the environmental impact of a private solar thermal power plant project in Alambra and Ayia Varvara after the communities raised concerns.

The project is a development involving Renewable Energy Sources (RES) with certain particularities due to the large area it is proposed to occupy in the Nicosia district, as well as the technology it utilises.

But recent reports have raised questions regarding the ownership of the land and the procedures by which this area of state land, estimated to be worth €21.7 million, can be allocated for the construction of the project.

“These issues are not an environmental issue,” the agriculture ministry’s department noted and assured stakeholders that its aim is to thoroughly examine the project.

Any decision will take into account the environmental dimensions of the project, and the department will be available to provide any interested parties with information or clarification on the matter, the statement said.

During the initial evaluation of the project, the department of environment advised stakeholders of deficiencies in the public presentation process with interested members of the public.

The first public presentation of the project was attended by only nine people, and after concerted efforts by the Environment Department, the project proponent and local authorities to re-conduct the project presentation 150 people attended.

The presentation was followed by a meeting of the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee on June 27, to which all stakeholders including local authorities were invited, who were informed by letter four days prior that during the presentation they would have the opportunity to submit questions, concerns and request clarifications.

At the conclusion of the discussion, committee members and guests, including local authorities, their consultant and legal counsel, were invited to submit in writing questions or suggestions of specific deficiencies in the information contained in the environmental impact assessment.

At this stage, the department said that is in the process of collecting all questions, to request additional information from the developer.

Furthermore, the department has already requested additional information regarding those environmental issues identified during the preliminary assessment process of the project. These are mainly related to impacts on flora and fauna in the area, impacts on microclimate, noise data from the construction and operation of the project, and technical details of the individual project systems.

The community leaders of Alambra and Ayia Varvara have said their main concern is the land being granted to the private company, spanning more than 3.3 million square metres and worth €21.7 million while questions have been raised about environmental and urban planning issues. Both parties were also particularly concerned that the construction of the park will be an obstacle to the development of the area.