General Secretary of the Green Action Group, Dogan Sahir, has said that the lack of environmental planning is causing severe environmental damage to the Besparmak mountain. There has been no assessment of the actual amount of minerals that need to be quarried, he said and measures should be put in place to protect the mountains.
According to data, during the years 1975-1984, 112 stone quarries were granted permits, during the years 1985-1994, this number was raised to 149. Between 1995-2004, there was a significant reduction in the number of permits granted and only 63 stone quarries had permission to operate. While during the period 2005-2014, only 17 stone quarries were granted permits. Since 2015, no further permits have been granted.
From the existing 56 stone quarries, 21 are quarrying for float stones, 19 are for quarrying crushed sand and gravel, 12 for building stones, 3 for gypsum and one for river sand and gravel.
Environmental organisations have noted, in particular, the damage caused to the Değirmenlik area. The health of the locals is affected by the dust clouds created by explosions at the quarry and they say that their properties are suffering damage from the vibrations caused by the blasts.
A report published by LGC News in May 2016 said that over 50% of materials quarried is exported to South Cyprus. “The Turkish Cypriot traders have a great price advantage as they do not have any costly environmental regulations to follow and they don’t charge VAT,” former South Cyprus environment commissioner Charalambos Theopemptou noted.
In another report published by LGC News in July this year, leader of the Assembly Dr. Sibel Siber, has said that environmental damage in the TRNC is poorly monitored, legal statutes are out of date and existing penalties offer little deterrence to lawbreakers. She added that the regulations of the Environment Law passed in 2012 are not yet completed, and did not cover the problem of noise pollution. According to the information given by the Environment Agency officials, the regulations of the law passed in 2012 can not be completed and there are many deficiencies in the existing regulations.
The problem is that there is not enough personnel to prepare statutes, thus causing delays. Outside agencies should be brought in to tackle this issue, she said.
Yeni Duzen, LGC News