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Greens demand Akamas plan overhaul

large water pipes, widened roads and construction rubble in an 'ecologically sensitive area'
Large water pipes, widened roads and construction rubble in an 'ecologically sensitive area'

The Greens on Friday called for a complete re-design of the Akamas plan, saying a reversal of the controversial road works does not go far enough in protecting the national park.

During a meeting with President Nikos Christodoulides, Greens leader Giorgos Perdikis handed over a lengthy memo setting out the environmental movement’s proposals to ‘right the wrongs’ of the state and ensure the viability of the Akamas as a national park.

The meeting came just days ahead of the expected results of an investigation into the road network launched by the government.

Perdikis told the president that while environmentalists welcome the decision to suspend the “disastrous roadworks” inside the national forest park and to investigate any wrongdoing, the road project itself was completely inconsistent with the character of the protected area.

“The project itself reflects in the most destructive way the same wrong policies and decisions… habitats of rare species of flora and fauna and the natural landscape have been affected… Excessive and unnecessary excavations and embankments were made, retaining walls and concrete bridges were built, and new service roads were constructed by the contractor,” the memo said.

The party said that a road network of almost 90 kilometres “as if it were a large urban area and not a nature protected zone” blatantly violates every principle of sustainable mobility. It asks that the natural environment be restored by demolishing all of the destructive projects.

In particular, the memo noted that the implementation of a water supply project to bring drinking water to Lara turtle beach “creates reasonable suspicions that the construction and operation of tourist infrastructure on the beach is planned under the pretext of fire safety”.

However, the memo said there is already a water tank in the area for fire safety reasons and the suspicion is that drinking water is being brought there to facilitate planned tourist structures.

The water pipeline, it added, should be axed as should any plans for refreshment areas in Lara.

The memo goes on to make a list of recommendations to the government to correct serious structural weaknesses in the Akamas plan and to ensure its proper protection.

These include incorporating parcels of private land into the state forest area and compensating the landowners, and adding a “buffer zone” around the park area in line with international norms for nature conservation.

Any road network should be of “a soft nature” that would be less expensive and conducive to more friendly modes of transport such as small electric ‘park buses’, walking and cycling. Only public transport should be provided and private cars should be parked outside the forest area in its entirety, the Greens said. Entry of motorcycle, jeeps and quadbikes should also be banned, it added, with exceptions made only for agricultural vehicles and transport for the disabled.

In addition, the only type of business that should operate there should be agriculture, or those based on eco or traditional crafts such as winemaking, horticulture and beekeeping among others of that ilk.

There should also be state grants offered for the restoration of traditional buildings and the development of alternative forms of tourism, such as eco-tourism and agro-tourism.

“Here, we have demonstrated very comprehensively how it is possible to effectively protect the Akamas peninsula in a way that ensures its future,” the memo concludes.

“The issue of the road network cannot be resolved only by the attribution of responsibilities and the control of the inadequacies in terms of the assignment of the project, nor with any geometric readjustment that again serves the same intended use. What we demand is the comprehensive revision of the entire philosophy and the entire design from the start.”

After the meeting, Perdikis, speaking to the media, made a comment about “unfortunate planning” and “criminal projects”. He said the president had listened “with understanding” but added that in the coming days it would be seen in practice whether he had heard what was being said.

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