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Environmentalists alarmed as report validates Akamas concerns

akamas
File photo: Akamas

The audit office’s latest remarks on the roadworks in Akamas confirm the concerns raised by environmentalists, the federation of environmental organisations (Opok) and the Cyprus Environmental Movement and said on Thursday.

In a statement, Opok referred to comments relayed recently by audit office spokesman Marios Petrides, which said that at first glance there are serious issues, as the roadworks in the area seem to go against the agreed framework.

“It is with great regret that we observe that our concerns regarding the roadworks within the Akamas national forest park are being verified,” Opok said, adding that the audit office’s comments confirm what they repeatedly warned of.

It is now clear that the works, which include expansions in the road network, excavations, the creation of retaining walls and the disposal of rubble in ecologically sensitive areas, “are not consistent with the special conditions of the special ecological assessment and those of the strategic study for the Akamas,” it added.

The organisation said it condemns any violations of the legally binding conditions governing the area, stressing that “with mathematical precision, they will lead to the alteration of its natural wealth and endanger the local environment and the ecosystem of the Akamas Peninsula, causing negative and irreversible effects”.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Cyprus Environmental Movement expressed its disgust “that those in charge have once again proved themselves unable to rise to the circumstances.

“They couldn’t prevent the damage, despite the existence of complaints, at a time when it was obvious some would attempt to get their way with the plans for the road network,” it said.

Similar to Opok’s, the Ngo’s statement pointed out that the issues had been raised by the environment department and then further verified by the statements made by the audit office.

The statement also referred to the response of competent minister Petros Xenophontos, who said that nothing that has been done deviates from the study, instead focusing on the fact the works are delayed.

The Ngo said his response was not reassuring, “since it does not answer the burning questions and the documented complaints about the environmental crime that is being committed in Akamas.

“In the past, we expressed our reservations many times regarding the fragmentation of the planning of the area and the dystopia that will prevail with the three different plans but also with the philosophy of the specific development of the country’s national forest,” the statement concluded.

“Once again, we are being proven right”.

Opok’s statement underlined the “urgent need” for the roadworks to stop, and for the entire local development plan for the Akamas to be redrafted.

The statement also said that following the “unpleasant developments” in the Akamas, and while the violations are recorded and evaluated by the environment department, the agriculture ministry has called environmental organisations to a meeting on Friday to discuss the issue.

Opok said that during the meeting it will call on the state and the competent ministry to intervene, to immediately stop any works and to redesign the entire development plan for Akamas, to restore the environmental damage done in the first phase of the project where this is possible as well as the attribution of responsibility to the decision-makers.

“The Akamas Peninsula is one of the last important environmental and cultural legacies of our country, the statement concluded, calling on the government “to place special importance and attention to ensure, at all costs, the preservation of Akamas for future generations”.

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