25th February 2023
BUREAUCRATIC DELAYS PUT HERITAGE SITES AT RISK
DLĦ URGES GOVERNMENT TO CONCLUDE GUARDIANSHIP DEEDS
Many historic sites were deteriorating through neglect and abandon, Din l-Art Ħelwa warned, as a result of bureaucratic delays in granting their guardianships to NGOs.
Members at the Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 25 February 2023 again urged Government, and in particular the Minister in charge of the Lands Authority, and the Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, to urgently resolve the bureaucratic issues.
Din l-Art Ħelwa (DLĦ) has for some time been seeking guardianship of the medieval chapel of San Ċir, the Cavalerizza and Marfa Palace in Mellieħa, and Qbajjar Battery in Marsalforn. It has already carried out the required studies, acquired the necessary permits and found funds for restoration.
Apart from the resolution about guardianship, DLĦ roped in the support of its members for the rejection of developers’ plans for a villa complex proposed as part of plans for the new Comino Hotel.
“The island enjoys Natura 2000 status in its entirety, is a Special Area of Conservation and an Important Bird Area. If the project is allowed, it will breach several existing policies that arise from the unique standing of the island. The proposed development is not compatible with any of Comino’s designations and can be described as ‘urbanisation by stealth’ of an island which should be held in trust for all to enjoy,” the resolution stated.
The members also approved another resolution, urging the Government to support its proposals for the creation of new Nature and History Parks at the Ta’ Sopu area in Nadur, and the area surrounding the White Tower in Aħrax, as well as the extension of the Majjistral Nature and History Park.
The fourth resolution called on the Government to develop a long-term vision and strategy on climate change, warning that human activity is causing planetary-scale changes on land, in the ocean, and in the atmosphere, with dramatic and long-lasting ramifications.
The year saw DLĦ maintain its activism momentum, in coalition with other NGOs. It registered an encouraging level of success, with numerous court actions, campaigns, and an increasing number of objections to inappropriate planning developments.
“All this activity requires resources and, after all these decades, we remain truly grateful for the ongoing support of our volunteers, members and sponsors. The amount of work to be done, however, never seems to decrease. We appeal to all those who care about our heritage and our environment to add their voices to ours, and to support us by becoming members and by donating to the many causes,” president Alex Torpiano commented.
DLĦ has also embarked on three projects to extend its networking: DLĦ ALERT, an online platform to help citizens object to inappropriate planning applications; DLĦ CODE RED YOUTH, targeting collaboration between young people on the issue of climate change; and DLĦ REVIVE, to develop existing and potential volunteers.
2022 IN NUMBERS
· 1,500 objections filed by the Heritage and Environment Protection team to planning applications
· 14,784 hours dedicated to the care of DLH sites by council and volunteers
· 70,000 visitors to the DLH sites
Għallis coastal watch tower (with the help of the Gal Majjistral Foundation Action Group)
Torri Mamo (with the help of the Gal Xlokk Action Group Foundation)
Painting of the Nativity of the Virgin at Victory Church (with the help of PwC Malta)
Dwejra Tower in Gozo (with the help of ERDF Funds)
17th century chapel of St Roque in Żebbuġ
Wignacourt Tower projects
1920 Australian Bungalow (with the help of the Melita Foundation)
Qalet Marku tower (with the help of the Gal Majjistral Foundation Action Group)
Delimara Lighthouse upgrade (with the help of the Gal Xlokk Foundation Action Group)