NGOs appalled by authorities inaction on Nadur cemetery
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The NGOs, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Ramblers Association, Koperattiva Agrikola Ghawdxija Gozitano and Nature Trust (Malta) have said they are appalled as to how the authorities have been treating the Nadur Cemetery case.
The NGOs added that the long delays in the decision of the Appeals board, while the development continues, simply show that the citizen is not a priority in such cases and the rights of farmers who are concerned about the impact of this development are falling of deaf ears. The way this case has been dealt with shows that the ECO Gozo initiative which Government has been trumpeting, is no more than a cosmetic exercise, while unsustainable development gets the go-ahead despite all protests.
The livelihood of twelve farming families depends on the 100 tumoli of land that will be affected by large-scale excavation of the cemetery site. Furthermore some 5000 trees may end up dying, parched of water – highly ironic when the 34U campaign is trying to plant trees in Malta.
The case goes back to the 5th of June 2007 (World Environment day) when Mepa approved the construction of a cemetery of over 630 graves for Nadur notwithstanding the fact that statistics show that the deaths at Nadur rarely exceed 30 a year. This permit was issued on a site that hydrological experts’ reports have confirmed to be an important water source, indispensable for the agricultural production of the area.
An appeal lodged by one of the NGOs as on behalf of the farmers was followed by a long period during which eleven hearings and one site visit were held. In the meantime Hydrologist Ing Marco Cremona also testified and submitted a report on the hydrology of the area which was rebutted by the Appeals Board without a satisfactory explanation being given. Over these two and a half years the development has been ongoing at a steady pace, destroying this unique ecological/agricultural area and wreaking havoc with the farmers’ freshwater supplies.
The NGOs said they cannot understand how the Authority responsible for sustainable development continues to allow such damaging cases.
Finally the NGOs said they feel that this is another case where despite promises of MEPA reform, of ECO Gozo and of sustainable development, the Government and the authorities are failing miserably to uphold farmers’ rights, to help agriculture in Malta and to ensure that tourism, one of the main pillars of our economy, is not undermined by more damage to our environment and landscapes.