Dwejra restaurant: Review tribunal members are “not fit for purpose,” say NTM
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Nature Trust – FEE Malta has described Thursday’s decision by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal to overturn a Planning Authority ruling to refuse embellishment works at a restaurant in Dwejra, Gozo as “disastrous.”
In a statement, Nature Trust argued that “it is clear that the members of this tribunal are not fit for purpose and are unable to put environmental considerations before commercial interests.”
Dwejra is a Natura 2000 site and a designated Special Protection Area under the Wild Birds Directive, it said.
It is also one of the few remaining areas where one can still observe the night sky away from the haze and light pollution that envelops our Islands.
Nature Trust pointed out that “ironically, successive governments have sought to obtain for Dwejra the prestigious status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which would have been a big gain for the tourism industry.”
However, at the same time they have “amateurishly been, covertly or sometimes even openly, supporting the restaurant in question’s bid to ‘uglify’ its surroundings,” stated the eNGO.
It stated that “obviously, this has done no favours to Dwejra’s UNESCO bid, which has remained nothing but a pipe dream.”
“Malta is shooting itself in the foot by approving such permits,” argued NTM. “It is also greatly harming the tourist industry, which depends on places such as Dwejra to attract quality tourists – tourists who are looking for spots with unique characteristics, away from the sprawling urban mess that has been insensitively created due to ineffectual policies and intentionally lax enforcement.”
“The Malta Tourism Authority’s Product Development Directorate, has itself observed that the site of the proposed refurbishment is extremely sensitive and that therefore no new development should be permitted to take place.”
Concluding its statement, Nature Trust – FEE Malta said that it “exhorts the responsible authorities to step in and take action in order to prevent this disgraceful travesty of justice from inflicting permanent and inestimable harm to the environment and economy of Malta and Gozo and to salvage the remaining shreds of their former good reputation with tourists, who are increasingly seeing the Maltese Archipelago as an overpopulated, ultra-congested country ruled by unscrupulous land speculators and whose environment is now beyond redemption.”
Photograph by Alain Salvary