No action was taken by the planning authority to remove 30 trapping sites on a protected area in Mellieħa despite enforcement notices served four years ago.

The sites are located on L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, a Natura 2000 area where a €1 million EU project was implemented to protect a seabird, the yelkouan shearwater. About 10 per cent of the world’s population of the seabird are found there.

When questioned on why no action has been taken to remove the trapping sites from an area of such ecological value, the planning authority said it was encouraging voluntary compliance because direct action to remove the illegality was costly.

“The authority’s enforcement officers do their utmost to close these cases by persuading the contravener, if they are known, to remove the illegality or regularise it through planning permission. The last and most costly resort to enforcement is direct action,” a spokesman said. He stressed Mepa had to prioritise its action and focus was on illegalities that had an impact on neighbours and sites of environmental or heritage value.

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