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20 May, 2024
 
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Kadis: 'Akamas local plan to be implemented before the elections'

The Agricultural Minister expects the issue to be resolved soon; it is currently being discussed in the Council of Ministers.

Maria Eracleous

Maria Eracleous

Today's Council of Ministers meeting will address the local plan for Akamas. An issue that remains a source of contention between the Ministries of Interior and Agriculture, as evidenced by discussions in the Planning Council between representatives from both ministries.  The relevant Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (SEA) Opinion was published by the Environmental Authority around the end of August. It has been impossible to prepare the final plan since then, five months later. Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis told "K" that the two ministries have different perspectives on the opinion of the Environment Department. Both sides will be discussed at today's meeting, and it will be decided whether the plan will be published immediately or given as a dowry to the next government based on the outcome of the discussion.

The legally binding conditions

After the new plan is published, it will be reviewed again by the Environmental Protection Department to provide a final opinion.

"I believe the Planning Board's final proposal could be announced by the end of January," Kadis said. It will then be resubmitted to the Environmental Authority for an opinion on the final plan; the Environmental Authority will consider whether it is compatible with the conditions set out in the previous opinion. However, he indicated that the material conditions of the opinion would have to be implemented in order to avoid the European Commission raising an eyebrow. According to Planning Board sources, many of the provisions revoke communities' current development rights.  For example, there is currently a possibility for individual housing in the policy statement, despite the Environmental Authority's advice to remove it. "As the Ministry of Environment, we believe that development opportunities are provided within communities rather than within Akamas," Kadis explained, adding that this is where the two ministries' philosophies differ. The Council of Ministers will discuss the two opposing philosophies, as well as the issue of compensatory measures, which will be given depending on the final arrangements. "Any announcement, the final draft of which will be submitted to the Environmental Authority for final approval, should be sent before the elections to ensure that it is ethically and morally correct," Kadis said.  He expressed the assessment that the submission of the draft to the Environmental Authority, in fact, means the end of the process since the text is not expected to be incompatible with the terms of the August opinion.

Compensation agreement

The Akamas Landowners Association stressed the importance of publishing the plan before the current administration ends in a statement. According to the statement, President Anastasiades and the relevant Ministers should give the Akama Communities and owners "the opportunity for gentle sustainable development where the Environmental Authority has decided with strict criteria that development is allowed with tourist, holiday, and residential zones and at the same time strict protection of Nature Biodiversity and Akama National Park."  It is emphasized that after the February elections, in collaboration with the Akama landowners and communities, fair compensation will be given to all affected landowners who will be deprived or were deprived for 33 years of development on their parcels and indeed had development rights and lost or will lose them from the New Local Plan based on the legal opinion which, as stated, has been secured and served on the President of the Republic and the Ministers of Interior Mr. Nouri and Agriculture Mr. Kadis.

It should be noted that opposition is also being expressed by Akama communities, particularly those of Inia and Kathika, who are calling for the status quo to be maintained based on the policy statement, and it is a gamble whether the compensation measures to be provided will be sufficient to change their attitude.

Now is the time to publish the plan

And the NEC believes that the delay in completing the Planning Board's work on the Akamas Local Plan as a result of the Environmental Authority's advice is not beneficial and poses risks. In a written statement by the President of the Chamber, Konstantinos Constantis, it is stressed that "the only expected statement from the Government would be to encourage the completion of the examination of the Local Plan, based on the opinion of the Environmental Authority and the immediate publication of the Plan".

[This article was first published in Kathimerini's 'Oikonomiki' print edition and translated from its Greek original]

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Cyprus  |  Akamas  |  environment

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