At the Mediterranean Network Meeting of the European Federation of Green Parties, held in Pervolia, Larnaca, Cyprus between 21-23 November 2003 the Greens expressed their concern on the insistence of the British Government to put in operation the huge
military spying antennae in the sensitive area of the Akrotiri Salt Lake.
The antennae should not have been allowed to operate prior to the completion of a health impact assessment, without applying the precautionary principle applied specially to children's and adult's health and the protection of wild life, bird migration and biodiversity.
We call upon the British Government to abandon the operation of the antennae and demolish all antennae erected.
Patricia Kyriacou, Cyprus.
(Below is an official Cyprus Green Party report on the demonstrations in 2002 against erection of the Akrotiri military base antennas)
CYPRUS GREEN PARTY
TO SAVE AKROTIRI AND CYPRUS ENVIROMENT
The British have started works on the 1st of July, whilst inclusion to the Ramsar list, environmental impact assessments are in process, the review of the international committee is still in progress and ignoring locals, greens and of the general public oppositions. About 10 scientists, environmentalists and the green MP Mr Giorgos Perdikis and his wife were protesting peacefully and with dignity against the construction works by preventing only the very heavy machinery to enter the construction site.
The 10 people were holding each other in the one site of the street –in order to avoid causing disturbance to the traffic -and holding a poster against the antenna. The British brought to the site large numbers heavily armed special forces and helicopters were flying overhead in order to avert a peaceful protest. They broke the human chain by applying physical force. Some protesters were violently treated among them the green MP and his wife. Although the previous day the Press officer of the Bases assured that they will not oppose peaceful demonstrations they forcefully removed the protesters from the place of protest, took charge of the area and subjected them to the humiliation of having to witness commencement of the violation of the wetland.
THE BRITISH MILITARY PROCEED WITH THE INSTALLATION OF
A 500.000 WATTS GIGANTIC ANTENNA IN CYPRUS
The British Sovereign Bases in Cyprus have started on the 1st of July 2002, the installation of a new antenna in the Akrotiri Military Bases. The selected area for the installation (the requested area for
installation is 13ha) is located in one of the most important ecosystems of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, the Akrotiri Wetland. A unique ecosystem of fresh and salt water habitats.
The new antenna will be installed among others, in a ‘’forest’’ of antennae created by the British Bases in the west of the salt lake. It has to be noted that the existing antennae, and even more so the planned additional one, are situated in a crucial and sensitive area of the wetland complex, providing the hydrological link between the fresh water marshes and the Akrotiri salt lake, as well as specific habitat for species of particular concern.
The wetland is of great ecological importance, especially for the avifauna since it is situated in the migration routes (Bird Life International, Important Bird Areas of Europe, Priority sites for
conservation: Southern Europe, page 152-153). The Cyprus Government aims for the protection and the declaration of the area to a Nature Reserve. The installation site is included in the planned Nature Reserve.
Moreover, the Akrotiri peninsula is one of the 38 proposed areas of Cyprus to be included in the Natura 2000 network. The ecological importance of the area is established and indisputable and fulfils the Ramsar criteria, but due to the political status of the area (Military Sovereign Bases, remains of the once British Empire in Cyprus and excluded from the European Union), the Cyprus Government didn’t designate the Akrotiri Wetland for inclusion in the List of Wetlands
of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention (ratified April 2001). The British have informed the Ramsar Bureau for their intention to extend Ramsar Convention in the Bases. The Ramsar
Bureau has been supplied by to two proposals for Ramsar Site delineation, one by the Cyprus Government following, in essence, the wetland ecosystem delineation, and a proposal by the Sovereign Base Area Administration that proposes a more restrictive Ramsar
Site, separated in two, artificially delineated entities. The British proposal is prepared in a way that the antenna ‘’forest’’ is excluded from the proposed Ramsar site.
The wetland ecosystem has been included in the List of Bird Areas of
International Importance, by BirdLIfe International is one of the proposed areas for inclusion in the Natura 2000 Network is proposed to be designated as Nature Reserve.
It qualifies for listing as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention Criteria 1, 2, 3 and 6:
- supports more than 1% of the Eastern Mediterranean population of internationally important wintering population of Greater Flamingo supports significant number of rare, endangered, vulnerable, endemic, important flora and fauna species
supports over of 32 bird species listed in the Anex I of the European Birds Directive
supports 27 habitat types listed in the Anex I of the European Habitats Directive
supports 2 habitat types listed in the Anex II of the European Habitats Directive
hosts an outstanding assemblage of migratory birds, 238 species of birds have been recorded in the area out of 365 recorded in Cyprus
hosts about 50% of the African population of the Demoiselle Crane
Apart from the ecological disaster that will be caused by the installation, another important aspect is the electromagnetic fields that will be created by the antenna. The type of the foresaid antenna is ‘’curtain array antenna’’ and is dimensions are width 196m and height 100m. The proposed antenna is a low band antenna and will operate in HF frequency band (3-30 MHz) with a maximum (continues wave) input power of 500KW. Few hundred meters away from the existing antennas and the proposed installation site of the new antenna, is the Akrotiri village exposed for years to the electromagnetic smog. In the vicinity there are few more villages and the city of Limassol. Even though the scientific community didn’t succeed yet to be of the same opinion that the electromagnetic radiation is negatively affecting health, it is recommended to apply the precautionary principle, in order to protect the public health bearing especially in mind the accumulative effect of the exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
The installation of the antenna and the existing antennae are violating the human rights of the Akrotiri village inhabitants. The Cyprus Green Party is actively supporting the locals in their efforts to protect their health and the environment. The widely known ”Precautionary Principle” and the European acquis should be applied and the British Government should be obliged to freeze all plans and respect the natural environment of Cyprus, the public health and the human rights of the Akrotiri village inhabitants.
There are also political aspects to the above and these are: the status of the British Military Bases in Cyprus and the listening power and purpose of the antenna, where all information will be forwarded to the computers of the British Espionage Center GCHQ, one of the Echelon Listening Centers.