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[WATCH] Nothing more we could have done to save Azure Window, government insists

The collapse of the Azure Window was the result of nature taking its course and could not be blamed on lax enforcement, environment minister Jose Herrera has insisted

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
8 March 2017, 2:36pm
Jose Herrera told a press conference that a committee had been set up to safeguard the iconic Window and that the site had been placed under an emergency conversation order. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Jose Herrera told a press conference that a committee had been set up to safeguard the iconic Window and that the site had been placed under an emergency conversation order. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The collapse of the Azure Window was the result of nature taking its course and could not be blamed on lax enforcement, environment minister Jose Herrera has insisted.

Herrera told a press conference that a committee had been set up to safeguard the iconic Window and that the site had been placed under an emergency conversation order – with a maximum €1,500 fine for trespassers.

Warning signs had been erected by the Window, and rangers were recently deployed to watch out for trespassers.

When asked whether cameras should have been installed to monitor the site, Herrera said that everyone is wiser in hindsight and that the Window would have collapsed regardless.

He could not confirm on the spot how many people had been fined for walking on the Window. “Several reports had predicted that the Window would collapse, although we weren’t expected it to fall so soon,” he said. “The site was studied several times under different administrations and everything indicated that no human intervention could have prevented what was ultimately a natural process.”

He said that the site will remain a Natura 2000 protection zone, and that an interministerial steering committee that was set up last year to safeguard the Window will continue monitoring the site.

Culture minister Owen Bonnici described the national sentiment as akin to the feeling of sadness that one feels after a dying relative passes away.

“Even though you would have known that his death was inevitable, you still feel sad wen he passes away,” he said.

Gozo minister Anton Refalo said that Gozitans feel as though a part of their body has been amputated, but that Dwejra will remain a popular touristic destination despite the Window’s collapse.

Similarly, tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis struck a positive tone and said he has “no doubt” that tourist arrivals in Gozo will once again reach record levels this year.

“This event only fills us with more resolve and determination, and our message from here is that the whole government – and not simply one ministry - is focused on Gozo.”