The surfacing of the Blue Lagoon dirt road does not have a permit

Updated Monday 10:30 am with reaction to ministry statement below

The surfacing works on the dirt road leading to the Blue Lagoon in Comino do not have a permit from the planning authority.

According to the Palestinian Authority website, the status of the case indicates that the application process, which dates back to 2018, is currently on hold at the architect’s request.

Not only have no permits been granted for the works yet, but they are also taking place on ODZ land – and in a sensitive area within a Natura 2000 site which is bound by a management plan, according to the Friends of Earth.

Its director, Martin Galea De Giovanni, said it was “a now familiar model” for work commissioned by various government authorities, referring to Dingli’s example of a road to nowhere in the ODZ lands to highlight the “current trend”.

In the case of Comino, work on the “access road” is in the hands of the Gozo Ministry.

Galea De Giovanni also asked what kind of services would go through a manhole being built as part of the works, fearing that it would end up providing services to illegal kiosks and could lead to their “institutionalization”.

Does this work attempt to legitimize illegal business activities?

He asked : ” .

A Natura 2000 site means Comino is protected by existing regulations that prevent residential development on the island, which is rich in biodiversity and is home to various rare and endangered species some of which are only found there.

Galea De Giovanni explained that the Comino management plan recognizes that the presence of a number of dirt roads is already having a negative effect on the habitats of the island.

It also requires that during construction works, including that of roads, mitigation measures be applied to avoid damage to protected habitats and species, including prevention of disturbance.

“This clearly shows that not only did this work require a permit, but also that appropriate environmental monitoring measures had to be taken before and during the work,” stressed Galea De Giovanni.

In summer, he said, work is still being carried out along the tracks and the environmental NGO has had problems with the impact on the garigue of the dust removal methods used. Pouring concrete was another story and he explained that other more sensitive ways of doing it in a Natura 2000 site had been proposed.

In the past, makeshift pieces of concrete have been laid for kiosks which not only constantly increase in size and number, but also lead to more vehicles on the island to maneuver them.

In the meantime, the Environment and Resources Authority has been alerted to the issue and has also been reported to the PA enforcement branch.

Gozo Ministry explains

In a late response to questions from The Times of Malta, the Gozo ministry said on Sunday afternoon that resurfacing the existing passage and quay with exposed aggregate concrete is necessary to ensure a suitable surface for pedestrians.

“The passage is part of a pre-established network for the public transport of vehicles within Comino and is essential to allow access to the Blue Lagoon.”

He said the passage is currently formed of battered embankment and has deteriorated significantly over the years, requiring immediate intervention.

“All the work has been and will be carried out after authorization from the competent authorities,” the ministry said.

In a response to the ministry’s statement, Friends of the Earth Malta said the framework request for the works is still pending and the case manager’s report recommends denial on the grounds that the proposal lacks information. to allow a complete assessment in terms of environment and landscape requirements.

“Since this was a framework request, the work could not have started even if it had been approved and would have required a complete development request. Can the Gozo ministry show us the required permit and bank guarantee? “Asked the NGO. .

The ministry, he added, is also incorrect when it states that “the passage is part of a pre-established network for the public transport of vehicles within Comino and is essential to allow access to the Blue Lagoon “.

There is no established road network on the island of Comino, which is also a Natura 2000 site.

“While FoE Malta recognizes that the path in question has been weathered and required some form of intervention, we believe that no ministry or entity should be above the law as it is not just about a form of environmental injustice, but also a long-term backlash thanks to those who, in the short term, try to circumvent laws and regulations in their quest to gain more popularity and political votes.

“It is high time that the Ministry of the Environment put an end to these abusive abuses which undermine all environmental and town planning regulations to the detriment of our environment and our well-being.”

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