Dwerja boathouses sanctioning not pre-election stunt – MEPA
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MEPA have issued the following statement on their sanctioning of the Dwerja boathouses:
“Over the past weeks, the Malta Environment & Planning Authority (MEPA) has determined a number of applications concerning boathouses in the Qawra/Dwejra Area. The sanctioning of these boathouses is part of an integrated Heritage Park Action Plan that was approved by a number of key stakeholders in 2005. Those boathouses that did not conform to the Action Plan were recommended for refusal and subsequently refused by the MEPA Board.
The preparation, as well as part of the implementation of this Plan, which is being funded by the European Community through the LIFE Third COUNTRIES scheme, was co-ordinated by Nature Trust (Malta) and the Italian branch of the international non-governmental organisation (NGO) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Italia).
This Plan, for a which an extensive public consultation exercise was carried out, calls for the adoption of a comprehensive approach for the conservation and preservation of resources and features of scientific, cultural and aesthetic interest in the area. The Plan includes 23 management measures that need to be implemented in order for the site to achieve the desired levels of protection of natural and culture heritage. The project includes the restoration of habitats, the creation of a Marine Protected Area, the setting up an educational visitors centre with information panels around the park, the restriction of hunting and trapping in the area, traffic management measures, a study on ways to slow down the erosion process of the Azure Window, the restoration of rubble walls and the tackling of illegal dumping and degradation connected with the nine quarries around the area.
The sanctioning of a number of boathouses, subject to a number of conditions, was another measure that was included in this approved comprehensive plan for the management of the area. The permitting to sanction all the existent boathouses in the area guarantees the introduction of uniformity and aesthetic improvements in the area with among others, wooden apertures, walls painted with palette colours, the removal of all second floors and roof top structures and the conformity of all boundary walls to a reduced height of not more than 1.2m. All owners are to pay a major fine and a planning contribution fee that will be used for improvement and management of the area.
The Qawra and Dwejra Area, on the western coast of the island of Gozo, has for several years been considered as a prime candidate for designation as a site of scientific and cultural importance, and its protection was specifically promoted in the Structure Plan for the Maltese Islands. Its potential and scope as an area protected for natural and cultural was first officially recognised in 1992, when the House of Representatives approved the Structure Plan.”
The Action Plan may be viewed by clicking here.
Issued by the Qawra/Dwejra Steering Committee