The president’s statements and his directives to suspend road construction projects in the Akama Peninsula provide a final opportunity to avert a disaster, environmental group Friends of Akamas have said.
They added that the convening of a meeting by the agriculture minister which involved relevant departments, experts, and environmental organisations was useful as it shed light on crucial flaws in the entire philosophy and process.
The announcement directly questioned not only the large number of intersections but also their creation, raising reasonable doubts about whether the specific design fundamentally supports the communities in the region.
Furthermore, the group questioned the extent and length of the road network, as well as the number of parking spaces within the Natura 2000 area wondering whether the plans provide for hundreds of private vehicles crossing the protected area. This comes in violation of the principle of sustainable mobility and international standards governing National Parks, the group noted.
However, the concept of a National park has not been introduced into legislation in Cyprus. This declaration of Akama as a National Park, it is stated, would put an end to such destructive intrusions into the peninsula.
Any current interventions in Akama must respect and adhere to the perspective and goals of the National Park, Friends of Akamas stressed.
Over the weekend, President Nikos Christodoulides urged a pause in the Akamas works for a state review to assess if they deviated from the agreed framework. He said he was “annoyed” after seeing images depicting deviations in roadworks.
Last week, the audit office said the roadworks in Akamas appear to fail to be in line with what was agreed in an environmental study on the area. A spokesman told the Cyprus Mail that a specific road has been widened by ten metres, while the agreed framework for the area says that “roads will not be widened”.
Meanwhile, environmental groups also raised concerns over works underway, despite the agreed upon implementation of the National Akamas Forest Plan, officially underway since September 1.
Terra Cypria, BirdLife, Friends of Akamas, the Greens and Akel have all recently asked for an immediate suspension of the roadworks, over suspicions that they are being executed in violation of precisely stipulated, non-negotiable conditions attached to the national plan, stemming from a special study commissioned by the agriculture ministry.
Those raising the alarm have asked for the environment department to conduct an onsite review of the situation prior to allowing any further works, and Akel has vowed to resurrect the topic, as well as that of stalled compensatory measures for landowners, in the parliamentary committee.