Cyprus Editorial: Who inspects the inspectors?

04 April, 2018 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

During the public consultation session this week, the first of its kind for the trans-continental EuroAsia Interconnector project, an official from the Environment Department said that it was imperative that the operator of the cable project hire the services of an independent consultant to oversee the work of the contractors.

As this is a European Union-approved project monitored by inspectors from Brussels throughout its duration, there is no doubt that this recommendation, as well as other measures will be adhered to fully, including health and safety, investing in local communities and transparency throughout, unless national security issues prevent it.

As commendable as the suggestion may be, it is a shame that this modus operandi does not seem to apply to the rest of the island and all other public and private projects. The recent gaffe of the Spilies (Caves) area development near Peyia and Coral Bay being a case in point.

The problem there is that no one was on hand to inspect the site of a private project that borders onto (or overlaps) a public area. And this may even have been considered unnecessary as the site plans show otherwise. In fact, according to the (outdated) plans and surveys, the seashore is supposed to be where it was some 20 years ago, prior to natural erosion in the absence of protective breakwaters. And the same applies to the public beach ‘cleaning’ campaigns undertaken by private developers or some municipalities, in their effort offer what they think is a better beach, not realising that they have destroyed the natural form of the seashore for ever.

Then again, nobody seems to care, as long as the municipality can collect hundreds of thousands of euros in bed and umbrella rentals, while relatives of local community members can fleece the unknowing public and foreign tourists very often charging an arm and a leg for beach side facilities, some rusty, some warm beverages and most of the time below standard.

The same could also be said for the absence of archaeologists from the deep excavation sites of multi-storey towers, where for sure some artefacts have been found, but because some developers have friends in high places, these are covered up and never reported, although it could very well be public knowledge.

What needs to be done is to properly and accurately conduct a full digital and up-to-date survey of the entire island, especially now that highly sensitive and satellite-accurate systems can record images, down to a fraction of a centimetre. If this is not done, then there is no point in arguing about comparing ‘before and after’ scenarios where the environment is disturbed, or even watching the decay of beaches and beauty spots due to natural erosion. Had this been done, then surveyors (and politicians alike) would have had a clearer and more accurate picture of what is happening, where and what the outcome will be.