Banning all non-gas operated barbecues was still not enough to keep beaches clean, environmental NGOs said yesterday, calling for more enforcement and better waste-management solutions.

The organisations were reacting to the decision to allow only gas barbecues to be used at Golden Bay after this newspaper reported that all other types would soon be banned from Mellieħa bay, as the council steps up efforts to keep its beaches clean.

Mayor John Buttigieg told this newspaper that during discussions on whether to revoke the barbecue ban at Għadira, the council identified threats to the quality of the beaches due to barbecues.

In Malta, litter on beaches is a big problem, and the more activities allowed, the more litter there is

So it decided to propose banning barbecues which do not run on gas at Golden Bay, where all barbecues were allowed.

Reacting to this proposal, Nature Trust executive president Vincent Attard said that from an ecological point of view, the decision was a positive one, especially since the problem with barbecues was not the activity itself but the litter that was left behind.

“In Malta, litter on beaches is a big problem, and the more activities allowed, the more litter there is,” Mr Attard said.

However, he said that while the problem with waste on the beaches was caused by people not cleaning up, law enforcement in these situations was very poor.

Mr Attard said that it was important to uphold the Blue Flag status at Malta’s beaches as not doing so could negatively impact tourism.

“The Mediterranean is surrounded by Blue Flag beaches with countries competing for tourism. Surveys have shown that Nordic tourists look for Blue Flag beaches as they know these are safe and managed beaches,” Mr Attard said.

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar coordinator Astrid Vella said the NGO also notedwith satisfaction the decision to only allow gas-fired barbecues at the northern beaches.

Ms Vella said that the next step would be to make sure that the beaches were not taken over by large groups who would bring masses of disposables with them.

“Through the bye-laws, the council also needs to regulate the unremitting blaring music that often accompanies these large barbecues,” Ms Vella said, adding that Malta had a very poor track record when it came to enforcing such laws. The council would also be introducing the collection of separated waste as part of waste-management efforts, while anyone wishing to gather for a barbecue would also need to apply for a permit against a fee of €5.

Such permits would also be needed to hold barbecues at Armier Bay, Little Armier Bay, Ramlet il-Qortin Bay, Torri l-Abjad Bay and Mġiebah Bay.

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