Akamas residents threaten to blockade EU delegation

RESIDENTS of Akamas area communities yesterday threatened to block the EU delegation in Nicosia, accusing the European Commission of preventing them from developing their properties in the area.

On July 3, the Cabinet decided to protect three specific areas in the environmentally sensitive peninsula, but allow some development in other parts.

The decision followed expands on earlier decisions to allow ‘mild and controlled’ development in the region.

The ruling banned any development in the Lara, Toxeftra, and Fontana Amorosa areas, considered to be of special environmental importance, but allowed development in other areas with certain environmental restrictions.

But residents remain outraged and yesterday threatened to take measures should the plan go through.

Speaking before the House Environment Committee, Inia community leader Sophocles Pittokopitis warned the residents were determined to block access to the EU delegation in Nicosia because the EU, in his words, favoured “the creation of second and third rate citizens in Cyprus”.

Pittokopitis said that in order to apply the Cabinet’s decision, residents would have to move from their homes.

He charged that some people wanted to turn Akamas villages into old-age homes, adding that the decision sought to divide residents by crating enclaves and areas in which development would be allowed.

Residents fear that if their properties are designated as protected areas they will be unable to capitalise from any development.

Environmentalists accuse the government of pandering to residents and big business interests in failing to declare the whole peninsula off limits to development.

The Bishop of Paphos and Carlsberg magnate Photos Photiades are among large property owners in the area pushing for development.

Landowners in protected areas will have a choice to exchange their land for state land elsewhere in the peninsula or to receive financial compensation.