Cyprus will soon solve the issue illegal landfills says Minister

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development Nicos Kouyialis appears optimistic that soon a solution will be found that will allow the shutdown of two illegal landfills in Cyprus, to prevent possible penalties from the European Commission.

The Minister, who was replying to a CNA question regarding the issue following a European Commissions’ infringement procedure against Cyprus last week, in relation to waste management, said he was optimistic that the penalties would be avoided.

He said that the illegal landfill in Vati will shut down next month after the operation of the waste management unit in Pentakomo. The ministry is also engaged in negotiations with the operator of the Integrated Waste Management Facility at Koshi, to find a solution that will allow the shutdown of the landfill in Kotsiatis.

An EU court decision from 2013 stressed the need to shut down the landfills in Kotsiatis and Vati. However, there have been delays, due to corruption cases in relation to Waste Management Units in Pafos and in Koshi, which were brought to court.

The ministry, Kougialis said, has already sent to the European Commission the strategy and the timetables on the basis of which the two landfills would be shut down.

“Unfortunately, we are very behind schedule as to the issue of Kotsiatis, which is directly related to the operation of the unit in Koshi”, he said, noting that the Commission was aware of the matter, as well as of the events that preceded it.

Kouyialis expressed the hope that in the next period, a way will be found to transfer waste from Kotsiatis to Koshi, to begin the process of terminating the operation of the landfill.

“The regulation for the operation of the landfill in Kotsiatis is linked with the operation of the Koshi Unit. Currently, the unit receives 110,000 tonnes of waste a year, and it is built to receive 200,000 tonnes. Our goal is to transport 80-90 thousand tonnes of waste per year from Nicosia province, which today go in Kotsiatis, explained the Minister.

The Minister pointed out that Cyprus has already the infrastructure that will allow the landfills shutdown and will therefore inform the Commission. As he said he had already briefed the competent Commissioner.

The Ministry will not accept any penalty he said and expressed the belief that the legal procedure will not be initiated.

Penalties for non-compliance by the Commission, vary depending on the case. As the Minister said different penalties have been imposed on different countries, reaching up to 30 thousand euros per day.

“We are optimistic that we will be able to prove to the Commission that the necessary steps are being taken and that we still have some time to put an end to the operation of the landfill in Kotsiatis”, the Minister said, noting that due to the legal procedures in Cyprus, the Commission has shown understanding in the past.

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures, a week ago, against 14 Member States, including Cyprus concerning the lack of reports on meeting re-use, recycling and recovery targets.