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Akamas roadworks to be discussed in Brussels

akamas 3
Photo taken by NGO Terra Cypria showing how the road has been widened by more than stipulated in the plan

Two petitions filed regarding the temporarily halted road works in the Akamas region are to be discussed at the European parliament on Wednesday.

The matters are to be discussed at the petitions committee, with the petitions having been filed regarding alleged violations of environmental law in Akamas, and development projects in the area.

Both petitions request that the European parliament take measures “to protect the area’s biodiversity”.

After having received the petitions, the petitions committee contacted the European Commission, which disclosed that infringement proceedings are pending against the Republic of Cyprus for not designating Akamas as a “special protection area”.

The commission added that it “continues to monitor the compliance of Cypriot authorities while keeping the option of appeal open against Cyprus at the European Court of Justice.”

They noted that the directive in question “does not exclude the implementation of projects in the area”, but said they must be done “only after an appropriate environmental impact study has been carried out”.

The first petition says the Akamas area “has been facing for decades pressure and threats to important habitats and endangered species”, and that “there are still no effective and legally binding measures” to protect the peninsula, in line with what would be required by European Union directives.

It added that the government’s plans for construction in the area “are expected to have devastating effects on the ecosystem, within a wider context of incompetent institutions, gaps in legislation, ineffective governance and a lack of transparency”.

Additionally, it said “the actual texts of the plans … were not available to the public.”

The second petition claims the plans to construct facilities such as cafes and restaurants, as well as roads and car parks, will “increase the human presence in the area, thereby endangering and disturbing various protected species and habitats, such as sea turtles and birds”.

It also says there are restaurants and cafes operating illegally on and next to designated turtle nesting beaches, despite warning letters and reasoned opinions already issued by the European Commission on this matter.

The controversy surrounding construction work in Akamas has been an ongoing saga for a long time, with the “National Akamas Forest Plan” to allow construction to take place in some areas of the peninsula having been rolled out in September last year.

However, construction lasted a mere matter of weeks before environmental groups cried foul, saying works had been carried out in violation of “precisely stipulated, non-negotiable conditions attached to the plan”.

Soon after, President Nikos Christodoulides said he was “personally annoyed” by evidence that construction work had deviated from the agreed plans, adding his voice to the cries for construction works to be halted.

Contractor Cyfield then announced all construction works on the road network in the Akamas peninsula would be halted until all issues were settled, while members of the House environment committee described the government as “pathetic.

Then-Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said works had deviated from the original plan and called for an investigation into how that happened, before days later saying construction works would proceed and would not be suspended under any circumstances.

Xenophontos was then replaced in his post by Maria Panayiotou, who has since said little in public on the matter despite meeting with Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis.

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