Għadira Bay’s Blue Flag status is being assessed after a concrete platform in the sand to serve as the base for a kiosk raised questions on whether adequate impact assessments were made.

The International Blue Flag programme yesterday morning contacted their local representative, Nature Trust, demanding a report on the impact of the concrete base on the coast, the sand dunes and surrounding ecology after Times of Malta exposed the development in the Natura 2000 site.

The planning authority said the concrete platform had its blessing in line with a permit issued last year. In a statement yesterday evening, it pointed out that the kiosk was in fact only one of seven to be “upgraded” in the area.

Nature Trust said the international programme would consider whether the legislation regulating the development was satisfactory.

The prestigious Blue Flag status is given for the sustainable management of beaches, and regular evaluations are held to ensure the certificate is still deserved  

Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar and Ramblers Association in a statement today said that the  granting of this permit for a kiosk on a Natura 2000 site and Special Protected Area was publicized at the same time that the Mepa Board refused a permit for a much-needed wind farm at Sikka l-Bajda, precisely because the site is in a Special Area of Conservation, and the wind farm would have impacted the marine ecology.

“The permit for the kiosk had been repeatedly refused, and the kiosk had two enforcement orders, swept away by the approved Development Notification Order. This DNO system bypasses public consultation to fast-track applications for minor works,” the environment NGOs said.

The condemned the fact that while previously, DNOs were limited to development areas and could not be applied in countryside or urban conservation areas, this scheme has now been extended to sensitive areas with the excuse of reducing bureaucracy.  

The NGOs also referred to Thursday’s incident when a shop’s roof collapsed because of the building of additional storeys.

“In its drive to enrich speculators, Mepa  keeps issuing permits for additional floors on top of existing buildings without the necessary studies to check the strength of foundations and load-bearing walls. At least five people have died in collapsing buildings, yet when objectors submit reports of unsafe structures to Mepa , the authority refers them to court, a costly option which is not available to all,” the NGOs said. 


The NGOs also noted that the EPC Board presided by Martin Camilleri, architect Aaron Abela and architect Elizabeth Ellul broke new ground when it approved a permit for a house extension which is across a country lane, a permit that the Directorate had insisted should be refused.

The EPC justified overturning the refusal on the grounds that this extension is linked to the main residence by an underground passage.

"The EPC Board granted the permit although it was aware that it will set a dangerous precedent, whereby unacceptable developments will be justified by linking domestic sites by tunnels" the NGOs said.

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