Green de­vel­op­ment must be taken se­ri­ously

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The is­sue of the en­vi­ron­ment and green de­vel­op­ment has not been taken se­ri­ously, nei­ther by pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als nor by the com­pe­tent Au­thor­i­ties. Cer­tainly, there has been a grad­ual im­prove­ment over the last 5-6 years and to this end, both the in­creased sen­si­tiv­ity of cit­i­zens, and the ac­qui­si­tion of ex­per­tise (trans­plant­ing trees, ready grass, old tree in­tro­duc­tion from abroad, new ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems, etc.) have helped. But more imag­i­na­tion and per­se­ver­ance is needed to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment and for this rea­son this whole pack­age should be con­sid­ered part of any build­ing per­mit, by sub­mit­ting a de­tailed plant­ing main­te­nance pro­gramme of pri­vate and pub­lic green space, even for pri­vate homes (plant­ing around the site, etc). I there­fore sub­mit the fol­low­ing pro­pos­als for joint re­flec­tion and dis­cus­sion:

• Part of the build­ing per­mit should in­clude plant­ing trees sub­ject to the rel­e­vant con­di­tions (a thought sug­gested with some reser­va­tion, as it may cause fur­ther de­lays in the is­suance of a per­mit). But there should be some safe­guards to pro­tect the frus­trated cit­i­zen who has been bur­dened with moun­tains of per­mits needed.

• Apart from a list of trees and their lo­ca­tion, to sub­mit the age of trees (very im­por­tant, es­pe­cially in view of what hap­pens with plant­ing 30cm seedlings), the wa­ter­ing and main­te­nance sys­tem, and wa­ter source.

• The plant­ing of trees to be con­sis­tent with the im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment (not to have palm trees dot­ted every­where) and that the age of the trees be at least four years and a min­i­mum height of 2 me­ters of clean trunk.

• The ap­pli­cant must bear the re­spon­si­bil­ity for main­te­nance for a pe­riod of 4 years from the de­liv­ery of the project/res­i­dence and to that end sub­mit a per­sonal guar­an­tee of EUR 100/tree to be used by the com­pe­tent author­ity in case of in­suf­fi­cient main­te­nance by the ini­tial owner.

• The com­pe­tent author­ity should not un­der­take to pay for the plant­ing and main­te­nance of trees in pub­lic and pri­vate green spa­ces com­ing from pri­vate projects, be­cause from ex­pe­ri­ence we know that they will be aban­doned or de­stroyed due to the in­dif­fer­ence of the author­ity it­self. For this rea­son, the com­pe­tent author­ity should col­lab­o­rate with pri­vate ser­vice providers which will be con­tracted for the main­te­nance and re­spon­si­bil­ity.

• Where trees can­not be planted, to pay a sub­sidy into the pub­lic “tree plant­ing fund” which, I hope, will be prop­erly utilised and not lost in the state cof­fers, as hap­pens with the funds col­lected from park­ing me­ters.

• As a rule of thumb, I sug­gest that one tree be planted per 100 sq.m. build­ing or two trees per 100sq.m. of a sports ground (which­ever is more), so a small block of flats should have around six trees. If there is no room to plant trees, then the sub­sidy of EUR 100 / tree to be paid to the fund.

• The cut­ting of trees for de­vel­op­ment pur­poses to be al­lowed (or else, the phe­nom­e­non of pur­pose-lit fires in Greece will soon ar­rive in Cyprus), but must be sub­mit­ted in par­al­lel with a plan to bal­ance the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, based on the pre­vi­ously men­tioned for­mula and the fi­nan­cial guar­an­tees.

• Au­thor­i­ties that are un­able to sus­tain pub­lic and other green spa­ces can make them avail­able to de­vel­op­ers for a pe­riod of five years, with a “con­ces­sion” of 50 sq.m. of build­ing per­mit for 100 per sq.m. of green, in the form of trans­ferrable build­ing co­ef­fi­cient. Al­ter­na­tively, the as­sump­tion of costs / man­age­ment to be de­ductible from mu­nic­i­pal taxes – the costs will be the same to the Author­ity be­cause it will avoid ex­pen­sive and hap­haz­ard main­te­nance, ex­cept that an in­di­vid­ual will care much more than the Author­ity.

• Any cit­i­zen to be able to sue the com­pe­tent author­ity for non main­te­nance or ab­sence of green space, where the Author­ity it­self set as a con­di­tion for the de­vel­op­ment. Set­ting the level of fines to be sim­ple to avoid lengthy pro­ce­dures, such as EUR 100/sq.m. of gar­den and the amount to be paid to the State. This will alert the au­thor­i­ties be­cause at present, most pub­lic green spa­ces have be­come garbage sites, and used by drug ad­dicts and other crim­i­nal el­e­ments. One ex­am­ple of in­dif­fer­ence is what has hap­pened in the last decade along the coastal walk­way of Ayia Napa that clearly lacks any main­te­nance (un­like the one in Par­al­imni). The aim of th­ese pro­pos­als is: • To up­grade the en­vi­ron­ment by plant­ing large trees rather tiny seedlings that in 80% of cases dry up un­til the age of 12 months.

• To alert the au­thor­i­ties by re­mov­ing the col­lec­tion of fees from cit­i­zens who will adopt a green area. • To es­tab­lish main­te­nance guar­an­tee fees. • The re­flec­tion by of each of us, re­gard­less of qual­ity and con­struc­tion costs of a project or home, of a tree plant­ing con­science.

• To reg­u­late plant­ing so that it is con­sis­tent with the en­vi­ron­ment and avoid the ugly ‘palm car­ni­val’, as is the case of a grand house in Nisou with a 10,000 sq.m. sports court sur­rounded by 40 palm trees.

There is a need for imag­i­na­tion on the one hand, and fines of pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als, de­vel­op­ers and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties on the other, in or­der to prop­erly em­bed in our minds a con­science that the en­vi­ron­ment is con­sis­tent with de­vel­op­ment.

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