The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

NGO concerned about environmental impact of proposed works at Gnejna Bay

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 1 March 2021, 08:15 Last update: about 2 months ago

NGO Din L-Art Helwa (DLH) has raised concerns that proposed works at Gnejna Bay could encourage part of the area to continue being "illegally used for vehicular parking."

A planning application has proposed coastal protection works, the construction of access staircases, boundary rubble walls and the installation of boundary timber fences. The proposed plans do not indicate any paving, but do show that a fence will be erected between the beach and what will end up being a separate area.

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Perit Tara Cassar filed an objection letter on behalf of Din L-Art Helwa.

Din l-Art Ħelwa (DLH) is seriously concerned about the possible environmental impact of this unwarranted request and questions the intent behind it,” the objection reads.

DLH states that the application description makes “no mention of the fact that a road will be created through this proposed development. The applicant also fails to note that the land will be formally separated through the installation of the fence and the size of Gnejna beach will in effect be reduced.”

“Furthermore, for decades this land has been illegally used and trampled on by people parking vehicles or caravans. On what grounds is it now being formally sectioned-off from the rest of the beach? Is the ministry actively cementing its fate as a parking site? Decades of abuse must not be legitimatized through such an unwarranted request.”

DLH said that the land being considered is designated as an Area of Ecological of Importance. “The entire site falls within this protected area. Any interventions must be considered within this context.”

DLH added that Gnejna bay serves as the mouth of a vast valley network. “Any alterations to this land may have a serious impact on the valley system it forms part of, most especially on the beach itself since sand replenishment is dependent on terrestrial activity.”

The NGO is also worried about the future consequences of this application. “By separating this land from the beach, and compacting the earth, the ministry is changing its natural state and initiating its formalization. The Ministry is in effect encouraging its further illegal use for vehicular passage and parking. The application acts as a stepping stone for the ultimate sealing of this land and once disturbed, its eventual conversion to formalized development. It is unacceptable to risk opening this unique prestigious site of great natural beauty and ecological sensitivity to such serious exploitation.”

The application is still in its early stages.

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