Cyprus Is Required To Evaluate Projects That Affect Natura 2000 Sites

On Wednesday 13/03/2024, the European Commission took action against Cyprus by issuing a reasoned opinion (INFR(2019)2303). This was due to Cyprus’s failure to conduct the required assessments for projects that could significantly affect Natura 2000 sites, as mandated by the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC). This directive is a key instrument for biodiversity conservation in Europe, demanding that any plan or project likely to significantly impact a Natura 2000 site be evaluated for its effects on the site before approval.

Such plans or projects can only be approved, with certain exceptions, if they do not compromise the site’s integrity. Following a formal notice sent to Cyprus in November 2019, the Commission has continually received citizen complaints about the approval of new projects and has kept a close watch on the situation.

The Commission has identified an ongoing and systematic pattern of authorizing economic activities in Natura 2000 sites that do not comply with the Habitats Directive. As a result, the Commission has now issued a reasoned opinion to Cyprus, giving it two months to respond and implement necessary actions. Failure to do so may lead the Commission to bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In its 2019 formal notice to Cyprus, the European Commission highlighted Cyprus’s consistent failure, since joining the EU, to ensure that its authorities conduct proper assessments of the implications of plans or projects on Natura 2000 sites or to ensure that projects approved do not negatively impact the integrity of these sites.

Natura 2000 sites

Cyprus is home to 125 protected areas, including 59 designated under national laws and 66 recognized as Natura 2000 sites. These include 33 Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive and 40 Sites of Community Importance under the Habitats Directive, with some sites designated under both directives.

 

Source: Cyprus Property News

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