Sanctioning Dwejra Boathouse Abuse – Environmental NGOs
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The environment NGOs BirdLife Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Gaia, NatureTrust and Ramblers Association of Malta have expressed their concern that tomorrow, Thursday April the 8th, MEPA will consider 16 applications for the sanctioning of works at the boathouse area of Dwejra, Gozo. A request for sanctioning means that structures, which have already been built, are in breach of MEPA regulations.
In February 2008, the environment NGOs said they had strenuously opposed the approval of some twenty applications to sanction abusive structures and accretions at Dwejra. MEPA approved these on the pretext that it would allow implementation of the Dwejra Action Plan to stop hunting, dumping and impose uniformity and aesthetic improvements in the area with the introduction of wooden apertures, walls painted with palette colours, the removal of all second floors and roof top structures. In spite of this commitment to regulate the area the NGOs said, some of the ‘boathouses’ already resemble small hangars, and 16 new applications are now presented for sanctioning. They said it is unacceptable that MEPA had sanctioned boathouse abuse two years ago on the basis of drawing the line to prevent any more sanctioning, and is now considering more sanctioning when five years have passed since the Dwejra Heritage Park Action Plan was agreed to.
The NGOs added that saying that these abusive tactics and the generally spineless response from MEPA, which have already been strongly condemned by the MEPA auditor in the case of the Ta’ Baldu site, are exactly the “illegalities” that the NGOs were recently protesting about. The NGOs will therefore not be attending this MEPA hearing in protest at the current processing of applications by the MEPA Board.
They concluded by saying that this hearing will be a test for MEPA to show its credentials. Approval of the Dwejra applications by MEPA will continue to reduce this supposedly protected area to a shanty-town, make a complete mockery of the MEPA reform, will tear to shreds the much-trumpeted New Policy for the Environment and will contribute to making a complete laughing-stock of Eco-Gozo.