Court of Justice Rules Against Cyprus on Paralimni Lake, Grass Snake
On 15 March 2012, the European Court of Justice issued a landmark judgment for nature protection in Cyprus, condemning Cyprus for failing to protect Paralimni Lake and the unique Cyprus Grass snake Natrix natrix cypriaca, said Birdlife Cyprus in a newsletter article.
The Court found that Cyprus “tolerated” damaging activities at Paralimni Lake, including a motor cross circuit and building development, threatening the status of the rare and harmless snake. Paralimni Lake is also a key bird site, especially for the Spur-winged plover Vanellus spinosus.
This judgment, the first against Cyprus for failure to properly implement the EU’s nature directives, should spell the end for plans to build 300 homes in the northwest corner of the lake. Cyprus must now rush to take action to protect the lake and the water-loving snake, by putting in place a system of strict protection as the Court ordered, said Birdlife.
Otherwise, the European Commission could take the case before the Court again and steep fines could result.
The Paralimni case was opened by the European Commission in March 2007 and went to the European Court in June 2010, after Cyprus failed, despite repeated warnings, to take action on the ground to protect the lake and the snake. The site was designated as a Natura 2000 site in 2009, but the Court deemed this to be too late and added that damaging activities and intrusions continued, including over-abstraction of water from the highly seasonal lake. Though over 40 Natura 2000 sites have been designated in Cyprus, they lack proper protection and management on the ground.
The European Commission has opened a number of nature cases against Cyprus, including for failure to adequately designate Natura 2000 sites for birds, for allowing damaging developments in Natura sites such as Ha Potami and Akamas, and for failing to monitor the status of Natura 2000 sites and key threatened species.
“We hope this decision will lead to swift action to properly protect the highly threatened Paralimni Lake, home to this unique snake and also a key site for birds,” said BirdLife Cyprus Executive Director, Dr Clairie Papazoglou. “We also hope it will lead to the authorities taking their obligations to implement EU nature directives far more seriously”.
Message from CyprusNewsReport.com. We can't do it without your help. Please support our independence so we can keep bringing you high-quality, free news from Cyprus and the region.
To make and read comments, become a full member of your news community, click here.