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23 May, 2024
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Construction at Cape Greco Monastery marches on despite Municipal opposition

Cape Greco residents demand halt to environmental destruction

Pavlos Neophytos

After facing criticism for inaction over the construction of a monastery in the Natura area of Cape Greco, Mayor Christos Zannetos of Ayia Napa addressed the situation before the Parliamentary Environment Committee.

He clarified that he verbally informed the Constance and Famagusta metropolis on March 12 to halt the works, followed by a formal letter from the municipality on March 20. However, despite these efforts, construction continued until March 17 when the complaint was filed, and even after the municipality's letter was sent.

The Metropolitan Church had begun the illegal construction within the Protected Area of Cape Greco, despite a previous rejection of their planning permission application in February. This was an issue raised during the Parliamentary Committee's discussion on the environmental impact of the construction.

In response, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment, Maria Panayiotou, assured that measures were being taken to enhance environmental control through legislation. She acknowledged the need for a more effective mechanism to prevent such unauthorized interventions in protected areas, emphasizing the state's commitment to address the issue.

The mayor of Ayia Napa detailed the municipality's actions from March 1, when they became aware of the illegal construction, to their communication with the metropolis and subsequent council discussions. Despite ongoing efforts, the situation remained unresolved, prompting consideration of further legal action.

Regarding the monastery's demolition, the Ministry of Interior's General Director, Elikkos Ilias, affirmed their intention to pursue judicial measures if necessary. Meanwhile, concerns were raised about the magnitude of consequences and the apparent limitations in enforcing penalties.

In response to concerns about unauthorized fundraising for the monastery's construction, the Ministry of Finance initiated an investigation. However, challenges remain in regulating such activities within the current legal framework.

The discussion also touched upon issues of double standards, with an MP highlighting the presence of a banquet hall near the construction site. Minister Panayiotou reiterated the government's commitment to rectifying past oversights and enforcing existing regulations.

Furthermore, Mayor Zannetos expressed concern about the extensive Natura and forest land within Ayia Napa municipality, questioning the consultation process for designating these areas. This prompted a response from the Environment Committee chairman, who clarified the process of defining Natura areas.

Various stakeholders, including environmental organizations and experts, emphasized the importance of preserving protected areas and criticized past failures to implement adequate conservation measures. They called for collective action to address these shortcomings and ensure the effective protection of natural habitats.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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