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Agriculture minister seeks solutions after forest fires, calls for installation of photovoltaic park

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Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos

Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said on Thursday he requested all data from the director of the forestry department to immediately start installation of a photovoltaic park near the Stavros tis Psokas forestry station, where a fire broke out earlier in the week.

Speaking after a cabinet session, Xenophontos said the park will help stations in the area operate autonomously, reducing the risk of fires. He added that an alternative and immediate solution was provided for Stavros tis Psokas Station, saying that a power supply generator was put into operation.

He said that there is full coordination between the departments and expressed his satisfaction.

Asked if there were any indications of malicious actions, particularly regarding the fire in the Paphos forest, Xenophontos said that a report is expected to be submitted by the forestry department director on the matter.

The minister also said that he had contacted Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades and arrangements have been made on Thursday for officials to go to Stavros tis Psokas and study immediately how to install a photovoltaic park and electricity storage station so that the forestry department and adjacent services can operate autonomously.

Xenophontos pointed out that fires are a phenomenon that will, unfortunately, continue to exist “and we are all coordinating to deal with fires as one body. You have seen it in the past few days, this will continue.”

Answering a question about the dispute between the forestry department and the electricity authority (EAC) regarding the fire in the Paphos forest, the minister pointed out that the effort in the Paphos forest was targeted and that from the first moment they mobilised all the units from all the cities and then the fire service and the reserves from the Civil Defense helped.

He noted that an immediate solution was given to the issue and “this is not the time to assign blame, but our job is to provide solutions.”

Asked to comment on yesterday’s protest by citizens over the frequent incidents of fires at a recycling plant in Geri and the actions the ministry will take, he replied: “We are handling it and will soon make announcements.”

Meanwhile, the government also said they will launch a grant scheme to strengthen resilience and adaptation of communities to climate change.

Speaking after the cabinet, Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said that the funds will be given in the framework of the EU recovery and resilience fund.

He added that the project has as its main purpose the promotion of the implementation of investments by the community councils through the provision of financial incentives in the form of non-refundable financial aid, for the mitigation of the effects of climate change, mainly of high temperatures and flooding, as well as sustainable mobility investments.

The government spokesman said that the budget of the project amounts to €3 million and the plan is part of the recovery and resilience plan, which was drawn up to utilise the resources allocated to Cyprus by the EU and was submitted to the EU after its approval by the council of ministers, on May 14, 2021.

Letymbiotis clarified that the plan is addressed to community councils and that each one will be able to apply to get the funding.

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