Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis intervened after bulldozers were brought in to flatten a section of the beach used by nesting turtles outside a luxury hotel in Polis Chrysochous.
The section of beach in front of the luxury Anassa Hotel and was earmarked for a wedding ceremony for guests at the hotel. However, as well as being used by turtles laying their eggs, the land also falls within the Natura 2000 protected area.
Kouyialis first responded to the news on Twitter, stating he, his ministry , or any related service had not given permission for any intervention on the beach and calling for work to cease immediately.
Όσον αφορά στις παρεμβάσεις σε παραλία εντός Natura, δεν έχω δώσει καμία άδεια, ούτε και οι υπηρεσίες του ΥΓΑΑΠ. Ζήτησα άμεσο τερματισμό!
— Nicos Kouyialis (@NicosKouyialis) September 5, 2017
The technical services of the Environment and Fisheries departments are expected to visit the area to study how seriousness any damaged caused by the bulldozers and consider what measures should be taken to restore the area. Paphos District Office officials were also on site.
An Interior Ministry announcement on Wednesday said that Neo Chorio Community Council had given permission for a wedding ceremony to take place on the beach, provided no permanent interventions were made. After learning about the bulldozers, the license was revoked.
It remains unclear if the ceremony will be going ahead at a different location.
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Speaking to Phileleftheros a representative of Anassa Hotel said the permit had been requested by and provided to a non-Cypriot client and not the hotel itself. They also said it had been the customer who arranged for and paid for the work to be carried out on the beach.
The hotel representative added that the area involved in any case was one where sunbeds and umbrellas were set up and that the bulldozers had been straightening the area so that a wooden structure for the wedding ceremony could be temporarily put in place. They said no sand had been added to or removed from the site.