Press Release 1st November 2010

The environmental NGOs Nature Trust (Malta), Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Din L-Art Helwa, Ramblers Association BirdLife Malta and Friends of the Earth Malta are appalled by the way filming was being allowed in the Natura 2000 site at Dwejra in Gozo, with the depositing of tonnes of sand over the protected Dwejra rock-face.

This activity was allowed to happen on a site that is of geological, geomorphological, botanical, ornithological importance and on an area rich in Scutella fossil beds and fossilised burrows which forms part of the CORE ZONE, ie. the most important part of the whole protected area in the Qawra/Dwejra Heritage Park Action Plan, protected by both national and international legislation, and where no cars were allowed to enter or park as per Dwejra Heritage Park Action Plan.

Recent weather conditions also caused material to end up in the sea – into an area declared as a marine protected area and also a Natura 2000 site MPA The environment authority – MEPA – is duty bound to protect this site and not allow such irresponsible activities to occur. The NGOs demand to know why permits were issued for this activity and why MEPA did not immediately halt the damage and take legal action against the film producers. Since MEPA issued the permit why was a monitor not posted on site continuously. MEPA should be ashamed for granting such a permit in the first place and for putting up such a ridiculous Bank Guarantee of Eur 15,000 for a site of this ecological importance. Moreover Trucks and bulldozers were allowed to enter in the core area.

The NGOs cannot understand where is MEPA’s Environment Directorate that is duty-bound to protect this site, nor why the Ministry for Gozo promoting Eco Gozo, the Ministry for Tourism and the Office of the Prime Minister, responsible for the Environment, failed to even voice their concern. The NGOs now demand that MEPA should ensure that the area is restored to its original state as soon as possible. What happened at this site is shocking and whoever was responsible for this activity or for a permit being issued, should now be held accountable for any damage.

Malta is today an EU member state and as such has to respect the EU habitats directive. The NGOs cannot understand why the action plan set up by EU funding was not followed by the same authority that approved it. MEPA is today also solely responsible in the management of Dwejra heritage and legally bound to manage this area as part of the Natura 2000 Network in the EU.

Nature Trust (malta);Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar; Din L-Art Helwa; Friends of the Earth Malta; Ramblers Association; Birdlife Malta