Natura Areas in Cyprus – Theory + Practice

No one in his right mind will not wish to preserve and even improve nature where this is possible. We, as Cypriots, upon joining the E.U., we leanred for the first time what Nature is and in order to prove ourselves better than the others, we started classifying just about everything which had some interest Natura. We started with Akamas and ended up at the Ayia Napa (3) caves and other rocky ground and the last but not list the Paralimni lake (a dry -seasonal water lake) for the protection of the local water snakes. We then went on to classify just about everything as an antiquity (e.g. even foundations of a building). If one is unlucky to find some sort of antiquity during development, the project must stop, the civil servants to inspect and excavate at their own leisure time and order the developer to stop completely the development, change the plans or whatever and all these the developer/owner having to pay the work hours of those civil servants who are engaged in the excavation and recording.

The financial crisis is bringing some sense to the above “admirable” behavior, since we suddenly discovered that we have no money to do the various Natura and other projects. Legal/constructional matters brought up compensation, which we could not afford and people’s attitude which were originally ignored by the Authorities, due to their reaction put a halt on the theories introduced.

So after 25 years of the Akama Odyssey we are back to square one, as well as for the Paralimni lake. The Natura scheme will be cancelled, whereas new ideas on such a scale and nature reserves are given second thoughts. It seems those who want preservation do not have in mind the costs involved. In the past there was no particular problem since we could “borrow”, but now?

Natura areas dear readers do not necessarily mean that no development can be allowed. The reply received from the E.U. regarding Akamas is an indication in hand – I.e. low rise development is allowed etc etc in such areas. As far as we are concerned a large percentage of Cyprus could be justifiably classed as an area of Natural beauty. Have you ever visited the Famagusta potato growing regions? Lovely red soil with acres and acres of potato plants and workers in rows picking up the potatoes. Have you ever visited Potamos at Sotira? Inandated by illegalities but yet not a Natura. Have you seen the Pafos forest area – an unbelievable side not a Natura.

We have to learn to live in accord to our financial ability and not have our head in the clouds, that some so called conservationists have – see the initial tragic wrong decision for the development of Anassa hotel by greens etc only to become one of the best hotels, providing employment in the region and setting out the foundation of the development of Polis and other areas. This most poor region in Cyprus has remained stagnant (and it is so even now to a large extent) as a result of such attitudes.

We say all these and by projection we come back to the prohibition of single house development in agricultural areas. A good town planning measure on the one hand, but with negative affects, economic, social and otherwise to the people. So before deciding dear Minister of Interior on matters regarding development and its restrictions bear in mind if we can afford in financial terms the decision. The tragic decision by the previous Government of transferable building density from one area to another and the establishment of a compensation formula for Natura and archeological classified areas, are still with us giving us the shivers!!

There remains in our opinion the payment of compensation to the state for the various decisions made by those who by their narrow mindedless or even stupidity make/suggest measures that others suffer damage. It reminds us of the Larnaca port placing limitations which stipulated that buildings within the port should reach only 2 storey height in order not to block the views of the rear developments. The French consultants indicated that a cruise ship is approximately 14 storey height and a Cypress tree can reach 5 floors height. So what views would the sea lined buildings were to block? End result the originally density of 220% and the floors from… levels to 16 levels – But then it caused a delay of 3 years to overcome such a stupidity and at no financial or otherwise cost to those who suggested it. Approximately 10 years ago in a written statement we suggested to the Government that the planning requirements for the golf development were wrong. The density should have been greater (originally 15% – now 30%) the public green of 20% should be concentrated in certain areas (now it is) and that the public green space should have uses for sports facilities developed and runned for 5 years by the developer (now it is so). We also suggested the payment of €5.0 mil. for each golf by the developers due to the relaxation given (now it is so required). We suggested that the various desalination plants, energy saving installations e.g. windmills are all the worst (now cancelled) and that residential units to have a minimum size (now set). We do not know if the new Government dug up our suggestions from some forgotten rubbish bin by the previous 2 Governments – but better late than never.

We are trying to think of a way for those people who are all for “good things” provided it does not affect them, to bear some sort of responsibilities (including of course ourselves on the same basis). We will have in this way a more responsible democracy.