Five Environmental NGos welcome MEPA Decision on Dwejra
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The environmental NGOs – BirdLife Malta, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Nature Trust (Malta) and Ramblers Association Malta have said that they welcome the decision by the MEPA Board not to sanction the illegally built boathouses at the Dwejra Inland Sea. The NGOs said they view this as an encouraging sign and hope that MEPA will now live up to the promised reform – that of a giving a higher priority to environmental concerns and issues as well as brining about a change in attitudes. They said that this outcome confirms what they have been maintaining – that MEPA’s decisions should be based on regulations, and not on the presence or absence of objectors.
MEPA demands that environment NGOs that carry out management and conservation activities in the Natura 2000 sites consult all stakeholders. While the NGOs said they agree with this, they object to MEPA giving equal weighting to each stakeholder irrespective of whether they are interest groups that are illegally occupying land or carrying out illegal activities.
The NGOs also noted with pleasure MEPA Chairman Mr Austin Walker’s comment that he was not prepared to approve and sanction development that had been carried out illegally and would be guided by on the evidence shown on MEPA’s old aerial survey maps. It is hoped that MEPA sees this through with actual and speedy enforcement to dismantle the abusive structures. This first step towards finally rehabilitating the area should be followed by measures to protect the unique flora and fauna of the area, to stamp out hunting and the encroachment of nearby quarries, and to ensure that the tourist boats convert to electric motors in order to eliminate the high levels of high-season pollution.
Finally the NGOs said they hope that this momentum will be maintained so that civil society can finally start to regain faith in this authority. This decision marks a great day and also reflects well on Government’s Eco Gozo project.