Left-wing Akel on Wednesday voiced strong opposition to the government’s decision to proceed with a tender for an environmental impact assessment and ecological study for a potential new quarry zone in the area of Androlikou, near Polis Chrysochous.

The government’s move comes just a year after the environmental department issued a negative opinion on the same matter.

In a statement, Akel said that the demand for quarry materials should not override environmental protection, “particularly within the Akamas peninsula, a protected area under the Natura 2000 network”.

“Quarrying activities are known to have significant negative impacts, and any plans for quarrying in Androlikou should be halted immediately,” the statement said.

Aside from the open tender for the environmental impact assessment and ecological study, the mines and quarries service has also announced a separate tender for an impact study on animal species and habitats within the nearby Natura 2000 site.

Interested parties have until June 18 to submit their bids.

This tender announcement follows a meeting at the Presidential Palace that took place last week, where the need for quarry materials for major planned projects in Paphos, such as breakwaters and a potential marina, was discussed.

The most significant colony of the Egyptian fruit bat in Cyprus, particularly sensitive to quarrying activities, is located only 370 metres northwest of the proposed zone.

The latest environmental impact assessment and ecological study for the Akamas plan stressed the need for regulations to protect Natura 2000 sites.

However, the tender noted that the recent economic recovery, particularly in the construction industry in tourist areas, has led to a significant reduction in aggregate material reserves in the Androlikou area, thus creating a need for a new quarry zone in Paphos for future use.

“The need for quarry materials cannot outweigh environmental protection, especially when such activities are planned within the Akamas area,” Akel’s statement said.

“Quarrying has significant negative impacts on any region, particularly in a protected area. Therefore, any plans for the Androlikou area must be halted.

“The government and the relevant ministry must find a way to resolve the issue of material adequacy without compromising environmental protection. The re-issuance of a tender for the Androlikou area unfortunately indicates that the government is not prioritising the safeguarding of habitats.”