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PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Reference Number: PR192550, Press Release Issue Date: Nov 28, 2019
 
The Ministry for Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change welcomes the decision taken today by the Court of Appeal to revoke the decision of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) to approve PA 5372/17 for further development within the Azure Window restaurant in Gozo. The appeal was filed by Dr Paula Axiak on behalf of Environment Resource Authority (ERA).
 
Welcoming this decision, Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change José Herrera noted that the strong positions and arguments being made by ERA with respect to the protection of our natural capital are yielding positive results. Moreover, such decisions confirm ERA’s important and effective role it has being an independent reputable authority. This comes just a few days after another two decisions were made by the EPRT in favour of the arguments presented by ERA with respect to developments in Wied Għomor and Żebbuġ
 
PA 5372/17 was intended to allow for the extension of an enclosed canopy and seating space, the permit would have also allowed for new lights which are not intruder triggered to be installed on site. These would have increased the intensification of the site thus resulting in a negative impact on the surrounding area.
 
The appeal was upheld on the basis that the Tribunal failed to consider the requirements of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) regarding the site which is a special area of conservation of international importance under the EU Habitats Directive and a bird sanctuary. The area also forms part of the Natura 2000 network and the Dark Sky Heritage Area.
 
The Court ruled that the permit is not essential and useful for the scope of the site which is primarily an interpretation centre with ancillary facilities. The application is therefore not justified with regards to SPED when considering paragraphs TO8.7 and TO8.9 which emphasise the control of activities which may impact the zone, and sources of light pollution which are to be controlled. The increase in illumination time caused by the non-intruder triggered lighting, in addition to the increase in noise pollution created from the increase in tables and chairs for use by the restaurant, were deemed sufficient to revoke the permit.