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Akel joins voices protesting against Akamas ‘violations’

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Widened roads and a retaining wall in the Akamas

Irregularities and violations in implementing the Akamas National Park plan were raised by opposition party Akel on Wednesday, amid mounting concern expressed by environmentalists.

Environmental NGOs and the Green party recently raised the alarm over significant breaches of the agreed upon terms of the plan, which appear to validate fears that permission given for roadworks and kiosks, and regulations governing pre-existing structures, are to be misused.

Terra Cypria and BirdLife Cyprus, following visits to initial road construction sites in the peninsula, issued an SOS, claiming the arbitrary widening of roads, multiple and incompatible retaining walls, and uncontrolled dumping of excavation waste. The NGOs demanded the immediate suspension of works until violations are investigated.

“The issue of proper management and protection of Akamas is becoming dated and efforts [to this end] have been underway for decades,” environmental spokeswoman for Akel, Christina Nicolaou said in a written statement.

“Unfortunately, despite the voices of protest and opposition […] the cabinet approved the plan since 2018 [and submitted it] to an environmental impact study [resulting in] its conditional approval under legally binding and essential conditions for the area’s protection,” Nicolaou recalled.

Akel had expressed concerns over the plan’s compatibility with protection of the area since 2020, she said.

Taking issue with the unsupervised way the road-building works are apparently being conducted, Nicolaou said the ministry must answer as to how this could be happening.

“How can such a project [have been started] without the daily and unobtrusive presence of an inspector? Who is responsible for checking the conditions that the environmental authority itself set for implementation […] and why is there no strict control?” she asked.

Efi Xanthou of the Greens party, meanwhile, cautioned that existing legislation could be abused, noting that a parcel of land which is adjacent to power lines, and has access to the water system, automatically carries with it the right to development – and thus the potential for private, uncontrolled activity.

“Despite the current government’s claims that they will not allow development of any buildings outside the residential areas, there is no guarantee that this decision will not be overturned,” Xanthou said, noting that there is an added risk of developers using conservation of existing structures as a pretext to build holiday homes.

Of concern too, is the fact that the new road network was mapped out without equitable warning of all owners of affected properties, and without compensation, amounting to a “state sanctioned land-grab” for some, Xanthou charged.

Employees engaged in the roadworks are uprooting trees despite other options in total disregard of their departmental duties, the Greens rep said.

Akel joined the call to investigate and put an end to any arbitrary activities, saying, “We ask the minister to immediately investigate and terminate any action taken outside the framework of the legally binding terms of the strategic impact assessment study.”

The party, moreover, gave a list of the state’s omissions as regards the plan, including unnecessary delays in issuance of decrees; absence of a comprehensive plan for the entire peninsula; creation of a national park limited to state-owned land; and preparation of different plans for the Akamas villages and Peyia.

“Akel intends to bring the issue back to the relevant parliamentary committees so that the relevant ministries and the government can provide answers,” the party’s statement concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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