I was extremely fortunate to witness the splendour of the Milky Way as a young boy. The mesmerisingly beautiful sight of countless stars strewn across the sky was what sparked in me an interest in science and led me to pursue a career in astrophysics.

Over the years, I have been lucky to witness that same expression of wonder upon many a child’s face during numerous science-outreach events.

It would be too optimistic of me to hope that all these children will end up being scientists one day, but I am sure that some of them will retain their child-like curiosity throughout their adult life and will want to pursue answers to the questions that cropped up in their minds when they were younger.

This summer I visited Dwejra with a few colleagues of mine who were keen on visiting the islands and observe the reputedly starry night sky of Dwejra, a site which, supposedly, is protected as a Dark-Sky Heritage Area by Mepa, as described in its 2002 local plan for Gozo and Comino.

It was very saddening to note the great change that had occurred since my last visit – a change which was brought about by a restaurant that is spilling light everywhere, serving not only to severely compromise the once pristine view of the night sky, but also to threaten the colony of Cory’s Shearwater nestling at these cliffs.

Mepa and the Dwejra Management Committee have long been aware of this infringement. I note that no fewer than five NGOs have issued a press releases on the matter.

The authorities surely cannot plead that they lack knowledge about this.

So I ask: why is it taking them so long to enforce their very own regulations to disallow the use of artificial lighting at night in Dwejra? What is preventing them from protecting one of the very last remaining unspoilt sites on our islands, which should be free for enjoyment by all?

They surely must know of Dwejra’s immense educational, environmental and touristic value, so isn’t it shameful that we should have to keep reminding them of their duties?

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