The uncontrolled expansion of hotels and other establishments on Cyprus’ beaches goes against the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean, Green Party MP Charalambos Theopemptou said.
The Convention was designed to protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.
Theopemptou, who was speaking during a House Internal Affairs Committee meeting, said the Convention requires 50% of each beach to be left without development. Also, no construction can be build at a distance less than 100 metres from the coastline.
According to Theopemptou, a large number of private businesses violate the Convention, while the government turns a blind eye.
The reason for this, the MP said, is that although the Republic is bound by the Convention, it has not ratified it yet.
Ioanna Constantinidou,of the Environment Service added that the service had sent a letter asking the government to ratify the Convention in 2014, but received no response. She said that the convention would soon be going to cabinet.
Committee Chair Eleni Mavrou stressed that a state which wants to think of itself as modern and serious cannot delay ratifying a significant Convention for so long.
Theopemptou added that the CTO and the Town Planning Department do not participate in the Beaches Committee – as provided by the law – which is responsible for checking if regulations are implemented.
The Beach Committee is not really able to exercise control over beaches and is restricted to just stamping documents that come its way, a Committee spokesman added.
A Republic Audit Office representative confirmed that these problems do exist and that the state must comply with the Convention. The Office found cases where illegal constructions were built on beaches “but no measures were taken against them,” he said.