FAA appeals against PA decision on Dwejra boathouse
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An appeal has been filed by FAA against what it describes as the Planning Commission’s “unprecedented decision to permit the commercialisation of a boathouse surrounding the Dwejra Inland Sea, in San Lawrenz, Gozo, saying that it will be “the ruin of Gozo.”
In a statement, FAA argued that the approved development will threaten this unspoiled protected area of unparallelled natural beauty by allowing commercial activity within it, despite no such activity existing to date.
FAA stated that the encouragement of such an incompatible use “would effectively lead to the piecemeal degradation of Dwejra’s ODZ with the Planning Commission’s decision setting a precedent for future commercial developments in this remote pristine rural area.”
The eNGO pointed out that the site is designated as Area of High Landscape Value and is also listed as a Special Area Conservation of International Importance falling within the San Lawrenz Natura 2000 site and should have been protected against such damaging uses.
In its official capacity as consultant to the Planning Authority, the ERA had in fact stated that the development was of “environmental concern .”
ERA had noted that “the introduction of commercial uses within a site that is outside the development zone and in an ecologically protected site is unacceptable. ERA considers that the proposed use for commercial purposes is inappropriate given the site context and cannot be justified in view of its genuine need.”
FAA said that the ERA also noted that, “should this application be approved, it would set a pretext for further interventions on site … and a precedent for future similar development applications for commercial uses (incl. shops, restaurants etc) in this environmentally sensitive ODZ area.”
“ERA’s concerns were completely ignored by the Planning Commission,” stated FAA.
“he decision to allow the commercialisation of this sensitive site goes against the Planning Commission’s previous stance against a similar application in Hondoq, Gozo, argued FAA. “Then the Planning Commission had refused a request to convert an agricultural store into a souvenir shop noting that the application would have led to the commercialisation of land and have a negative impact on the ecologically sensitive area.”
FAA maintained that the same logic should have been applied to Dwejra, even more so given its designation as a Natura 2000 site.
“By allowing this one commercial unit, further similar applications will follow, resulting in the piecemeal commercialisation and eventual ruin of the picturesque Dwejra inlet” FAA said. “The Planning Authority simply should not have permitted this exploitative and damaging application.”