We made it! Dwejra has been saved.
The court appeal to #savedwejra has been won and Dwejra is now safe from the threat of further development and its night sky has been protected. In last week’s final hearing of the case concerning the proposed extension of a restaurant at Dwejra, the Court of Appeal has upheld our arguments against the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT)’s decision to grant the permit, which means the permit is being revoked.
The case for appeal was prepared jointly by BirdLife Malta and the University of Malta’s Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy (ISSA), which were both registered objectors. It was on 15 July 2019 that BirdLife Malta filed the appeal in court on behalf of a coalition of 15 NGOs opposing further development in this Natura 2000 site which is also a designated Dark Sky Heritage Area.
“Court appeal to #savedwejra has been won, following concerted NGO effort and support by general public”
The Gozo site is also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) of international importance under the EU Habitats Directive, a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive, and a bird sanctuary. At night it can give spectacular views of a dark starry sky and the Milky Way while the iconic Scopoli’s Shearwaters use the cliffs as their breeding habitat. Light pollution and increased development would have damaged this area.
A separate appeal filed by the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) on this case was also upheld.
Whilst welcoming this important decision, we would like thank all those who supported this fight, in many ways. A concerted effort of NGOs, lawyers, academics and civil society has brought the much desired result. A word of thanks also goes to the general public for its overwhelming support following the scandalous decision by the Tribunal to overturn the initial refusal by the Planning Authority for this development in Dwejra. Following a crowdfunding campaign we had launched to raise funds so that a court appeal could be filed, over €3,000 in less than two days had been donated.
The 15 NGOs who had united in one effort as part of this front, and who are also endorsing this press release, are:
- Bicycle Advocacy Group
- BirdLife Malta
- Din l-Art Ħelwa
- Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
- Friends of the Earth Malta
- Isles of the Left
- Light Pollution Awareness Group
- Moviment Graffitti
- Nature Trust-FEE Malta
- Ramblers Association
- The Archaeological Society Malta
- The Astronomical Society of Malta
- The Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy (ISSA)
- Wirt Għawdex
- Żminijietna – Leħen ix-Xellug
Read the Maltese version of the press release here.