Environmental NGO in bid to stop 'ruinous' Dwejra boathouse development

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar appealed the approved development, saying it would threaten the unspoiled area by allowing commercial activity within it

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar has filed an appeal against the Planning Commission’s 'unprecedented' decision to permit the commercialisation of a boathouse in Dwejra
Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar has filed an appeal against the Planning Commission’s 'unprecedented' decision to permit the commercialisation of a boathouse in Dwejra

An environmental NGO has filed an appeal against the Planning Commission’s decision to allow the commercialisation of a boathouse surrounding the Dwejra inlet in San Lawrenz, Gozo.

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar is warning that the approved development will “threaten the unspoiled protected area of unparalleled natural beauty by allowing commercial activity within it, despite no such activity existing to date”.

The encouragement of such an incompatible use for the area would effectively lead to the piecemeal degradation of Dwejra’s ODZ, with the Commission’s decision setting a precedent for future commercial developments in this remote pristine rural area, it said.

FAA underlined that the site is designated as an 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.

The organisation highlighted that the Environment and Resources Authority had in fact stated that the development was of "environmental concern”, noting 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”.

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 (including shops, restaurants, etc.) in this environmentally sensitive ODZ area.”

ERA’s concerns were completely ignored by the Commission, FAA lamented, however.

It underscored that the decision to allow the Dwejra development contradicted the Commission’s previous stance against a similar application in Hondoq, Gozo, where it had refused a request to convert an agricultural store into a souvenir shop, because this would have led to the commercialisation of land and would have had a negative impact on the ecologically sensitive area. “FAA maintains 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. The Planning Authority simply should not have permitted this exploitative and damaging application,” the NGO added.

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