The Malta Independent , 17 May 2008 – Protecting Harq Hammiem Valley and Underground Cave: Mepa amends scheduling boundaries of Natural Heritage Site
In its effort to safeguard the natural heritage and the biodiversity that exists in the Harq Hammiem valley and the underground cave, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa) has amended the scheduling boundary for it to include the full extent of the valley system and the correct location and extent of the cave.
The Harq Hammiem valley and the underground cave, located between the periphery of Pembroke and St Julian’s, was originally scheduled by the authority way back in 1996. The authority has chosen to revise the original scheduling boundary to include the entire valley and a 30-metre constraint zone around the exact location of the underground cave.
The area within the constraint zone is not scheduled and does not carry any levels of protection. The 30-metre zone is intended to ensure that any application for development permission that includes excavation works is accompanied by an appropriate study to safeguard the stability and integrity of the nearby cave.
The same levels of protection that were assigned in 1996 have been retained. The core area of the valley and the underground cave are still being given the highest degree of protection (Level One). A Buffer Zone (Level Four) is also being established to safeguard the importance and integrity of the entire valley.
The amendment to the scheduling boundary also includes the removal of a section along the north-western boundary that extended into Triq Emmanuele Decelis, and another smaller area along the South-eastern boundary. These two areas were descheduled to tally with the provisions of the approved North Harbours Local Plan.
Scheduling of natural and cultural heritage, is a control mechanism that enables the Authority to restrict development according to the protection level.
The authority said it remained committed to implementing sustainable development principles and practices for it to pass on the natural and cultural heritage to future generations.
A site plan showing the different levels of protection assigned to the valley system and cave may be viewed on website www.mepa.org.mt.