The British Bases in the Republic of Cyprus have denied reports that they have raised objections to the €550-million Limassol casino plan over environmental or any other concerns, local news outlet Cyprus Mailreports.
The Bases said in a recent statement that they “have no jurisdiction in areas” across the Mediterranean island nation, which meant that they could not have any direct influence on the project’s future.
Back in the fall of 2016, Hong Kong-based gaming and hospitality company Melco Resorts & Entertainment was selected by the Cypriot government as the winning bidder for the nation’s first casino resort. Melco, which currently operates properties in Macau and the Philippines, is planning to build a €550-million resort in the Zakaki area in Limassol. The property will feature a full-fledged casino with slot machines and gaming tables, as well as a hotel, food and beverage facilities, retail space, numerous attractions, and a meeting and events center, among others.
Reports have emerged across local media outlets that the Bases have raised environmental concerns over the impact of the multi-million development on the nearby Akrotiri Salt Lake and wetlands. However, according to separate reports, the Bases were actually trying to hamper the project so as to be able to proceed with their own military activities agenda. The Bases denied those reports.
Environmental Impact Assessment
Melco announced earlier this month that it would break ground on its new resort on June 8. However, construction cannot begin before the developer is given the green light by the government’s environment department. According to local media, the department was expected to provide its comments on the project by the end of the month. However, it is believed that the Bases’ reported concerns might have become the reason for a delay in the department announcing its views on the plan.
It was understood that Melco had hired two firms – Envi Services and Pro Plan Ltd. – to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment. The assessment was carried out to find out whether the construction of the casino resort would have any negative impact on special conservation and protection areas.
It is believed that the Bases, which were reached out to by the government, raised concerns over the fact that there will be noise and lights not far from the Akrotiri wetlands and these could have quite a negative impact on the wildlife in the area.
According to the Melco-commissioned environmental report, there would be no such impact as the casino resort will be part of an urban zoning area. The assessment went on to point that the area mentioned by the Bases was actually not inhabited by protected wildlife. The report also suggested that the Bases might actually be interested in the area for their military purposes.
Melco’s resort is expected to open doors in 2021. A temporary casino will open in Limassol this summer and will operate while the main property is under construction. It is believed that the major complex will draw an additional of 300,000 international tourists each year once operational and will generate 4% of the nation’s GDP after two years of operation.