A sand nourishment project will take place right on the beach at the world-famous Fig Tree bay, but this year local authorities are trying to minimise controversy by obtaining permits and using science to combat erosion.
In a public notice, beachgoers are being warned that that the Paralimni municipality will begin pumping sand from the sea onto the shoreline in the coming days to cover areas where sand has been eroded.
But the issue is not without controversy, as recent pumping methods and the timing right before the summer season is set to begin, are the topics of fierce debate within the community.
In the last few years authorities have been using bulldozers and industrial pumps at Fig Tree, among Europe’s top 10 beaches according to TripAdvisor, in an effort to replenish the sand that vanished due to erosion in an effort to restore the sandy contours of the water line.
Past practices included grabbing bulldozers and getting to work randomly without conducting surveys or obtaining permits
But while reclamation projects are not unusual, local practices in the past included literally grabbing bulldozers and getting to work without conducting proper surveys in advance or obtaining proper permits.
Paralimni locals also have been crying foul, saying the method of taking sand from random points in the sea and transferring them to the shore was being carried out irresponsibly and without guidance from environmental feasibility studies.
Critics also blamed a recent waterbreak in the sea for potentially exacerbating the erosion problem, pointing to a serious lack of understanding how nourishment sand moves in response to waves and currents.
This year is different
But this year, according to public notices posted by officials, the project has been licensed properly by governmental agencies, both at local and state levels, as well as the departments of Public Works and Environment.
Before approving any licenses, government officials recently conducted on-site inspections while hydrographic and sounding surveys were also completed.
The license places terms and conditions for the project, such as the source of sand and its depth, as well as well as how much sand should be used based on the scientific studies. Strict guidelines also require that sand be taken from the same area in order to preserve the natural character of the beach.
State versus local authorities
While projects are necessary for improving the beach experience for sun bathers, the government recently was determined to put a halt to illegal construction on a number of beaches, following a recent spat between state and local officials on several projects that appeared to violate the law.
The decision came in March, days after Paralimni mayor Theodoros Pirillis said ongoing projects in the area were being carried out legally in order to install a rainwater drainage systems for certain areas.
Pirillis told online daily Kathimerini that his office had sought legal advice from a private law firm and the attorney said the construction fell under the jurisdiction of the mayor.
But the problem of sand erosion falls under the supervision of the government, and Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides called recently for a legislative framework that would spell out how differnet agencies can coordinate more effectively and how licenses ought to be issued for construction work on the beach.
“Mayors and municipal councils should seek input from other offices and departments, depending on the situation, so that there can be better coordination among those involved,” the minister said.