The track through the precious natural area of Lady’s Mile is to be fixed up, as announced by the Limassol Municipality in 2021, with relevant plans recently presented to the public for consultation. The proposed ‘redevelopment’ project concerns the upgrade of the road along Lady’s Mile beach, from the new harbour to the last restaurant. More specifically, it concerns the construction of a 6km road along Lady’s Mile existing road, with pavements, cycling paths, roadside parking spots, infrastructure for the collection of runoff, and access management.
Frequent disturbance and uncontrolled access have led to the degradation of the natural area, part of Akrotiri Peninsula, putting it at risk. Unregulated access, off-road driving and the encroachment of restaurant parking areas into sensitive habitats such as sand dunes, salt marsh and the saline pools west of the road are among the pressing threats. Additionally, events (some organized without environmental permits) further exacerbate the situation, as they create further disturbance. It is evident that the area needs upgrading, especially the coastal road and restaurant parking lots. However, it is vital that this happens in a manner that aligns with the ecological needs of the species and the site’s protected status.
The absence of a local regulatory plan, which should guide any redevelopment, has hindered the achievement of a balance between recreation and nature protection. This popular beach area, not only attracts people for recreational activities but also supports a diverse range of wildlife, including breeding birds, rare plant species, and threatened reptiles.
BirdLife Cyprus has had a number of meetings with the Limassol Municipality on this issue, the latest in late April. In June 2023, we attended a public consultation meeting organized by Limassol Municipality, which provided us and other stakeholders with the opportunity to raise questions and express concerns regarding the impact of this redevelopment. As BirdLife Cyprus, our support for the road upgrade is conditional upon strict adherence to the area’s protected status. BirdLife Cyprus has stressed that crucial gaps in the environmental assessment should be filled, such as conducting comprehensive bird surveys. Specifying the road material and ensuring alignment of the project with the 2011 ‘Footprint’ for the area as necessary according to the Non-Military Development Plan, is also vital for the project to go ahead. Most importantly, BirdLife Cyprus expects this plan to provide effective solutions to current habitat loss and degradation, by proving access control and applying systems such as ‘Park and Ride’.
At the same time, we have expressed our concerns regarding the recent proposal by Ypsonas Municipality and Asomatos Community to significantly increase the number of sunbeds and umbrellas on Lady’s Mile beach. This move poses a further threat to the area’s delicate ecosystem, such as the need for additional parking spaces to accommodate the influx of visitors along the already congested Lady’s Mile road, leading to added disturbance and habitat loss and further compaction of the sandy beach habitat. Existing sunbeds and umbrellas along Lady’s Mile are already very dense, and are not being removed after 7 pm, as they ought to be. This significantly reduces the available nesting space for protected sea turtles and directly contradicts the legal obligations to protect this area.
BirdLife Cyprus remains committed to closely monitoring the various developments at Lady’s Mile, advocating for the protection and responsible management of this precious area and Akrotiri Peninsula in general.
For the latest developments on the Akrotiri Peninsula, please check Akrotiri Peninsula SOS – BirdLife.