Recent cases of irregular and problematic procedures for the environmental evaluation of projects near protected areas undermine the progress made in recent years. The examples given below unfortunately offend the common intelligence and demonstrate in the saddest way two-meter and two-station tactics, a complete lack of coordination and surveillance, but also a denial of responsibilities on the part of the state.
Photovoltaic Park in Sotira: The recent cutting of carob trees, which was done in violation of the condition set by the environmental authority when it approved the Photovoltaic Park in Sotira in December 2020, is unfortunately just one of the many examples of ostriches in the state. In this case, the preservation of carob trees in an area bordering the protected area for the birds of the Paramali River, was an essential condition on which the positive opinion for the project was based. Apart from the fact that the opinion ignored the significant risk of this project for the Vulture and other important species, it is also questionable because, once the conditions set by the environmental authority were ignored, the state now seems to be considering compensatory measures. , instead of simply removing the project license.
Photovoltaic park in Meneou: A similar case is the one that concerns the Photovoltaic Park in Meneou a short distance from the protected area of Larnaca Salts. A condition for the approval of the project in January 2016 was to maintain the cypress trees located around the perimeter of the growth. However, in violation of the term, hundreds of cypress trees were cut in October 2019. The companies seem to have been simply given a fine of 10,000 euros. Does the state want the violations of the terms it sets to be paid so cheaply?
Towers and villas near Alyki Akrotiri: Next to the huge casino, another development project was approved in June 2021, consisting of two towers and 10 villas. A condition for the development is to create a green space to favor the Black Hawk, an endangered species of bird of prey that uses the area. However, with the widespread developments in the area, which are now turning the rural landscape into an urban one, any attempt to compensate for the effects is canceled, and this measure becomes simply useless. Why is the state unable to assess the impact of the developments on the protected Cape Peninsula as a whole, and not in fragments?
Ayia Napa Marina: For the destruction that occurred in the protected area of Agia Thekla from the Marina of Ayia Napa, in 2015 an additional area was given as compensation for the protection of Vrachoploumidi in the Sand of Kambouris. Two years later, in 2017, near this new protected area, tourist urban zones were introduced that allow the construction of even hotels. The lack of coordination and communication between departments is obvious, since in this case the view of the environmental authority for some modifications was not requested and for others it was simply ignored. What is the reason for designating a new protected area in response to the destruction of another when it is about to be destroyed? Why does the State not work in a coordinated manner for the effective protection of the areas?
When the state itself does not take seriously the procedures it sets and does not move in a clear and coordinated framework and with a long-term vision for nature protection, then how can a contracting company respect any opinion or conditions imposed? What is the purpose and significance of the ecological assessment, when opinions are ignored and no punitive and dissuasive penalties are given when such violations are identified?
BirdLife Cyprus expects the state to show the necessary political will for the proper implementation of the procedures, but also from the departments to act in synergy with each stakeholder and to assume their responsibilities.