Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Environmental Group Challenges Cyprus Casino Environmental Impact Review

Casino News Daily
Environmental Group Challenges Cyprus Casino Environmental Impact Review

An environmental organization blasted Cypriot gaming regulators and authorities for giving the nod to the construction of the €550-million City of Dreams Mediterranean integrated resort without a proper assessment of the impact on nearby protected areas.

In a statement on its official website, conservationist group BirdLife Cyprus said that the lack of the comprehensive environmental review actually breached both Cypriot and EU laws for the protection of endangered species.

Hong Kong gaming and hospitality operator Melco Resorts & Entertainment and its local partner CNS Group announced last month that they would break ground on what would be Cyprus’ first casino resort on Friday, June 8. The property will be developed on a portion of land owned by CNS Group in the city of Limassol.

BirdLife Cyprus pointed out in its statement from earlier today that the resort will actually be located not far from what the NGO described as “the most important wetland” on the island, the Akrotiri Salt Lake, and within an Important Bird Area, or an area considered to be particularly important as part of ongoing efforts for the protection of endangered bird species.

Environmental specialists claimed that the project could have irreversible impact on at least two bird species – the red-footed falcon and Eleonora’s falcon. The red-footed falcon, in particular, has seen its population diminish over the past several years, the BirdLife Cyprus statement read. The falcon visits the island and the Akrotiri Salt Lake area, in particular, during the spring and fall to roost and feed during its migration.

No Environmental Impact Assessment

BirdLife Cyprus said it believed construction of the multi-million resort was about to begin without proper environmental impact assessments being conducted. Environmentalists explained that when properties are built near Natura 2000 sites, with the Akrotiri Peninsula being such a site, additional reviews should be carried out.

Melco commissioned and Environmental Impact Assessment earlier this year which found that there would not be any negative impact on the nearby salt lake as City of Dreams Mediterranean would be developed within an urban zoning area. The review further read that there were no protected species in the part of the Akrotiri Peninsula where the hotel and casino complex would be located.

BirdLife said in its statement that the assessment was of low quality, insufficient, and questionable. The organization further pointed out that important issues have been brushed away by Cypriot politicians, gaming regulators, and news outlets in the name of profit.

Local news outlet Cyprus Mail reported last month that concerns over the environmental impact of the casino resort have also been raised by the British Bases located on the island.

City of Dreams Mediterranean will feature the Republic of Cyprus’ first land-based casino. Construction on the property is set to begin late this week and to be completed in 2021. A temporary casino will operate in Limassol while the main resort is under development. It is expected to launch later this year.

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