Walking and jumping off Azure Window now a fineable offence

Minimum €1,500 fine for people who walk and jump off crumbling Azure Window, park ranger will be hired to monitor iconic site

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
3 December 2016, 12:18pm
Rocks could be seen falling off the Azure Window in a video that went viral last week.
Rocks could be seen falling off the Azure Window in a video that went viral last week.
People who walk on or jump off the Azure Window in Dwejra, Gozo will now be subjected to a minimum €1,500 fine. This was announced in an emergency enforcement order published by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), a week after a viral video showed large rocks falling off the iconic site as a man jumped off it.

The emergency order states that no one, unless authorised by ERA, should access,mwalk, abseil, climb or jump off the Window, or access the sea underneath it. Those who breach the conservation order will be prosecuted in court, with penalties set at a minimum of €1,500 and a maximum of imprisonment. It will be valid until June next year, when it will be replaced by permanent legislation that will allow ERA to hand out administrative penalties on the spot.

 

"We have no control over nature, but we can control human activity so as to safeguard the window for as long as possible," ERA chief executive Ruben Abela told a press conference.

Around 90% of the Window’s outer layer is estimated to have eroded over the past three decades.

Bollards with warning signs will now be set up around the Window and a park ranger will be employed to monitor the zone. Further details on security measures will be announced in a press conference in a few weeks' time, once the environment, tourism and Gozo ministries analyze a report that will be drafted by the newly-formed Dwejra committee.

Historian Timothy Gambin, chairman of the committee, said that he will present the recommendations in two weeks' time after analyzing three separate expert reports on the Window. 

“We received financial estimates on how much it will cost to hire a watchman for the area,” he said, while declining to provide a figure. “Tourists and visitors will be educated before visiting the site that the Window is to be admired from a distance.” 

Environment minister Jose Herrera described Dwejra as a “tourist magnet” and “one of the most beautiful areas in the Maltese Islands”.

He pledged not to make light of security at the Window, admitting that environmental enforcement has been traditionally lax in Malta over the years.

“I am fixated with boosting environmental enforcement. Introducing pro-environment policies without adding the necessary enforcement is like throwing dust in people’s eyes.”

He said that he had personally proposed the erection of a fence to block people from walking on the Window, but that the idea was discarded by experts who warned that such a move could have adverse environmental effects.

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