Din l-Art Helwa has said that Mepa’s facilitation for the pouring of concrete directly onto the sand on a Blue Flag Beach is totally unacceptable, insensitive to the high value of the rare sandy beaches on the island and will eventually lead to further degradation of the beach itself. The decision to fast track such a development, waved through by means of a simple DNO in order to upgrade a number of kiosks, says the NGO, is yet another example of the short cuts which has rendered Mepa a rubber stamp for development.
The NGO has also stated that it is as shocked by this ease of permitting of construction on a Blue Flag beach, as it is by Mepa’s refusal to grant the media information on assessments justifying this development as has been reported in the Sunday Times of lst March. If this is correct, said the organisation, Mepa is going completely against the Aarhus convention which establishes the right of everyone to receive environmental information held by public authorities.
The rushing through of such developments so close to summer also signifies political promises made to kiosk owners. With numerous kiosks already peppering Ghadira, which will now be more prominent and permanent, visual degradation is set to increase and soon the public will not be able to see the sea from the road as is happening in many of the island’s major promenades due to the general proliferation of catering outlets. Moreover, it is unclear whether the environmental impacts of the cement foundations laid on site have been properly assessed, and the Blue Flag certification which was earned with so much effort by the Malta Tourism Authority is in danger of being lost.
Din l-Art Helwa urges Mepa to reverse this decision and remove the platforms, and asks that any upgrade of kiosks be carried out on temporary structures which do not imperil this important status and do not spill out on fresh areas of the beach increasing the footprint of the same outlets. The organisation also looks forward to the release and publication of the assessments that justify these developments which are necessary if Blue Flag Criteria are to be adhered to.