The authorities are yet to erect signs informing people it is illegal to step foot on the Azure Window, leading to confusion over whether the new regulations are in force.

This newspaper reported last week that stepping on Gozo’s iconic geological window now carried a minimum fine of €1,500.

Environment Minister Josè Herrera had said that the area, which is falling victim to rapid wind and sea erosion, was now protected through the provisions of an emergency conservation order.

The order, published in the Government Gazette last Friday, makes the rock formation a no-go zone with walking, abseiling, climbing and even jumping off the seaward area now all prohibited. However, despite the area’s new protection status, this newspaper has received several photos of trespassers still walking on the crumbling structure.

The matter has also been raised on social media with visitors questioning whether the new fines were already in force.

Timmy Gambin, who heads a specially set-up committee on the Dwejra site, said the fines were already in force, however, informative signs and bollards had not yet been erected on site.

He said that these were still being printed and should be installed later next week.

The decision to block off access to the site came just days after a video of a man jumping off the window, dislodging large boulders in the process, was uploaded on to YouTube. The video sparked outrage with many questioning why the site was not being monitored or closed off.

Asked whether fencing would be introduced to further deter trespassers, Dr Gambin said fencing had been ruled out as it would negatively impact the area’s geology.

He said he wanted the site to be administered like a natural park complete with rangers who would not only ensure visitors remained within the safe zone  but also inform them of the area’s geology. It consists of two main rock layers: Upper Coralline limestone, a hard, durable stone, and Blue Clay limestone, a softer, malleable stone susceptible to erosion.

As much as 90 per cent of the outer layer is estimated to have eroded over the past 30 years.

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