March 13, 2013

Wind farm permit cancelled

Cyprus Mail | March 13, 2013 |

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos has cancelled a permit to create a wind farm in an environmentally sensitive area signed by his predecessor a day before she handed over the ministry despite being opposed by all departments involved in the process.

Hasikos said he will also look into other cases signed between the first and second round of the presidential elections – February 17 and 24.

The permit concerned a 77.4MW wind farm project – 26 turbines – located in a Natura 2000 zone at Pentashinos near Lefkara signed by Eleni Mavrou on February 28.

“Starting with the principle that as the outgoing government you do not sign for such large projects, especially on the last day before the handover, I investigated the specific permit and concluded that it should be cancelled,” Hasikos said. “This has to do with the fact that all departments involved with this were strongly against.”

The minister did not expect the cancellation to have any consequences.

“As far as I understand, the applicant may have not even received the permit,” he said.

The issue was reported by daily Phileleftheros, which said the town-planning department and the environmental authority both refused to license the project because of the negative effects it would have on bird species.

Hasikos said he was now forced to investigate other decisions taken during the previous administration’s final days and cancel any deemed to be dubious.

The minister said he did not want the matter to become a point of contention in light of the critical times Cyprus was going through.

“On the other hand, acts that clearly affect good governance cannot go unnoticed,” Hasikos said.

Pentashinos is steep-sided valley that runs from the Macheras range down to the Larnaca coast near Ayios Theodoros.

According to BirdLife Cyprus, it forms a key route for migrating birds, with large numbers of birds of prey and also smaller birds flooding through it every spring and autumn.

It was designated as a Natura 2000 site for birds in 2007 because of this importance for migrants and also because it hosts important numbers of breeding Bonelli’s eagles – the only eagle to still nest in Cyprus – rollers, which are a globally threatened species and also of the two Cyprus endemics: the Cyprus wheatear and Cyprus warbler.

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