Joint Press Announcement – Thursday 18 August 2016
The Department of Environment leaves Sea Turtles unprotected in Limni area
Cyprus faces fines from the European Court
The Department of Environment published on 08.02.2016 the Final Environmental Expert Opinion  regarding the construction proposal of two golf courses and huge scale residential and tourist developments in Limni area near Polis.
Cyprus will be led to the European Court regarding the case of Limni, a marine Natura 2000 site where sea turtles Caretta caretta nest and the green turtles (Chelonia mydas) feed. The European Commission estimated that the environmental impact of the project “Limni Bay Resort” near the Natura 2000 site “Polis-Gialia” will adversely affect the integrity of the area, and approving the project without ensuring that it will not do so is a clear violation of the European Nature Directive 92/43/EC.
In 2013, the Department of Environment has recognized the need to establish a building free area of 475 meters away from the beach. Following the unprecedented pressures and interventions, the building free area was initially reduced to 280 meters and eventually shrank to 20 meters, which has been approved in the licence of the project and obviously caused Europe’s reaction.
For this reason, the Department of Environment requested from the company to present a new and more complete assessment, to satisfy the requests of the European Commission. Instead, the updated assessment indicated that the location of buildings should remain and also included the construction of a hotel, and three rows of bungalows right on the beach.
Ignoring the fact that Cyprus is just one step away from the European Court, the Department of Environment issued an opinion that allows the construction of the project at its whole including the hotel, and only requests the removal of bungalows from the final master plan.
With this decision, the turtle nesting beach remains completely exposed to negative environmental pressures, due to the enormous human disturbance and the increased direct light and luminance levels which disorient hatchlings that end up on land instead of the sea water. Overall, the entire project is expected to affect 25% of the nests of Caretta caretta in the whole island.
Apart from the danger occurring from direct light sources, the proximity of the project in the coastal nesting area and the minimal mitigation efforts, the enormous size of the project is expected to result in irreversible negative environmental damage in the environmental sensitive and very important region of Limni.
The Department of Environment has received numerous consultations from experts on the subject, who identified scientific gaps in the assessment regarding sea turtle biology, content gaps in the assessment, as well as gaps in the implementation of the mitigation measures.
Thus the final decision of the Department of Environment, which essentially added a tourist complex (hotel 160 rooms) instead of removing residential buildings from the area, will not convince the European Commission, which is likely to lead the matter to the Court.
The final decision of the Department of Environmental threatens the sensitive species of sea turtles, for which Cyprus has a particular responsibility in protecting, and the Cypriot taxpayer who will be called to pay the heavy fine delivered by the European Court of Justice.
The Press Announcement is signed by the following organisations:
Enalya Physis Environmental Research Center
Cyprus Conservation Foundation Terra Cypria
Ecological movement cyprus federation of ecological and environmental organisations
Environmental Movement Cyprus
Initiative for the preservation of natural coastal areas
Friends of Akamas
Friends of the Earth Cyprus
Notes to editors:
- The final opinion issued by the Department of Environment, together with the updated and approved map of the project (Master plan) can be found here (GREEK ONLY): http://www.moa.gov.cy/moa/environment/environment.nsf/All/489ABC63E867176CC2257B050049CCA0?OpenDocument