Cyprus Mail

Wedding venue operating on environmentally protected site

Ayia Napa

There are at least 20 illegalities at Ayia Napa’s environmentally protected Natura 2000 site, but not a single deterrent measure has been imposed apart from a fine, Cyprus’ Ecological Movement charged on Wednesday.

MPs at the House environment committee were furious at how blatantly the law is flouted, whether it be by the church for its monastery construction or businesses.

Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou confirmed to deputies that a wedding venue is operating on an environmentally protected site in the Ayia Napa area.

She said the matter has already been reported to the town planning department and environment department.

Panayiotou stressed that she herself had taken steps over the matter in her previous capacity as environment commissioner.

Nonetheless, only the licensing authority has the power to demolish a building in case of illegalities, she told MPs.

In this case, the planning authority in the area in question is the Famagusta district administration and the building authority is the Ayia Napa municipality, the interior ministry permanent secretary clarified.

Panayiotou highlighted that just because mistakes happened in the past, this does not give anyone any right to continue illegalities.

A Terra Cyprus rep said authorities need to take action over the wedding venue, which was constructed in 1993 with a housing building permit, before the area was declared environmentally protected.

Similarly, a spokesperson for the Ecological Movement, accused the environment department on not having a single staffer in the Famagusta district.

He added there are at least 20 illegalities in the area, but not a single deterring measure has been implemented, beyond a €2,000 fine by the game fund.

The legal service could have easily begun proceedings to halt the illegalities, he charged.

MPs also decried the government’s handling of the illegal monastery which began construction at Ayia Napa’s Natura 2000 site. Though it has been ordered to stop building works, an appeal has been filed while the bishopric recently launched a petition to keep the project going.

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