Cyprus is allowing the cutting of trees in protected areas and proceeding with approval for solar projects in environmentally sensitive areas that could be used for farming, conservation cattle and quarrying, said the site StockWatch.
The report said that in most cases agricultural land is being cleared of trees for the photovoltaic solar panels and that authorities approved installation of 239 solar parks with a capacity between 150 kW and 10 MW on those lands.
It was said that “hundreds of trees” more than several centuries old were among those cut down and that there were cases of illegal activity and irreversible damage in Natura 2000 areas.
But reactions to stop it were said to be too late and the maximum penalty of only 5,000 euros ($5874) provides an incentive to break the law even at the cost of harming the environment so that a profit can be had for some.
The Department of Environment froze the processing of applications for setting up solar power plants in October until a comprehensive spatial plan and an institutional frame are adopted, the report added.
Earlier in August, the Cyprus Transmission System Operator told the news outlet that electricity output from renewable sources has a share of only 11-12 percent of a goal of 13 percent.