No government commitment to date for Dwejra Heritage Park
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Following a press statement issued in June this year, The Nature Trust (Malta) Council had called on the Prime Minister, as the responsible authority on the Environment and Tourism, to intervene in the Dwejra Heritage Park issue and help solve the various issues which are now long overdue.
Unfortunately NTM notes that to date no developments for this site have emerged.
Nature Trust (Malta) had been awarded a LIFE project by the European Union way back in 2004. This project encountered problems from the very start, with Mepa delaying the approval of the Action Plan by over one and a half years. The project eventually came to an end in March 2007.
Since then all tasks indicated in the Action plan have come to a halt and NTM now feels that all the investment poured in to conserve the site is now going up in smoke band and the park is falling into degradation. Without commitment and a management agreement the site is degrading fast. Rubble walls restored are starting to fall and no enforcement and monitoring is being done round the clock on the site.
The pending tasks include:
· The Coaches / buses Parking – which had also suffered a blow way back when sand from quarries was dumped in the area under the tower and site, left as is up to date
· The Dwejra square – which to date is still not complete with parking bays for a more organised traffic management and to stop cars parking on fossils etc
· Legislation for the Marine Protected Area – where today no enforcement can be undertaken as there are no clear definitions of what activity can be done and what is prohibited in the MPA. (Harpoon fishing has been noted in the MPA, fishing cages still being used in large numbers etc)
· Despite what was agreed with the EU, the park today still has no management agreement. This has left the park without a manager and without funds to employ park rangers to safeguard the area. Since the end of Project, NTM was no longer the project coordinator of the site. Without a site manager and a management agreement today no one is controlling the activities on site. This was an issue raised by the EU in a recent communication and which NTM again referred to the Management Committee and the authorities.
· No rehabilitation and conservation of the Island Sea area where the pebble beach had to be restored and parking stopped in this bay.
· No solution has yet been found to the problems relating to the present structure of the visitors’centre which is not according to the Permit issed by MEPA
· No enforcement is being done and information signs are being vandalised with no action being taken to catch the vandals, an issue also remarked on by the EU as damage to EU property.
· Despite various reminders to the management board by NTM, no action was taken up to date and NTM is continually getting the blame on issues that in reality are the responsibility of the board.
NTM had plans to continue working on the conservation of the site and proceed to obtain the UNESCO World Heritage status for Dwejra. However with the situation being what NTM thinks can best be described as lack of interest from the authorities, NTM has decided not to proceed with its efforts until conservation commitment by the authorities is shown.
The NTM council feels disappointed that after all the efforts it had done to save the site, today it s simply being ignored and the site is not being given the attention it deserves as a Natura 2000 site, a potential UNESCO World Heritage site, a prime site for tourism and a landmark for Malta and Gozo.
NTM appeals to the Prime Minister to take immediate action and look into the issues raised especially since Government has stated that its priorities are the environment and eco Gozo.
The state of Dwejra today gives a different interpretation to these commitments.
Action must be taken to protect Dwejra without further delay. Nature Trust (Malta) has now no option that is no development is seen within the next couple of months but to report the matter to the European Union since EU funds were used to commence the conservation of Dwejra .
Nature Trust (Malta)