‘Heads must roll’ after Dwejra sand dumping
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‘Heads must roll’ after Dwejra sand dumping

It was saddening to learn that the Gozo eco-scandal had ended up in US websites linked to the film industry – Leo Brincat.

It was saddening to learn that the Gozo eco-scandal had ended up in US websites linked to the film industry – Leo Brincat.

The opposition’s spokesman on the environment, Leo Brincat, said yesterday that merely tightening up conditions on future filming on pristine sites was not enough.

Speaking during the adjournment motion, Mr Brincat referred to the dumping of several truckloads of quarry sand in Dwejra, saying that accountability called for heads to roll, particularly within Mepa itself, if the authority was to start being taken seriously.

This was even more so, he said, when the Mepa chairman was quoted to have said that things could have been done better regarding this incident. The PL was still waiting for confirmation that the Mepa auditor had been tasked to investigate the whole process in which the authority itself was involved, rather than the mere film permit issued.

Mr Brincat said that instead of solely blaming the film producers, their sub-contractors and their Malta agent, it was high time that high officials, including the politically-appointed Mepa board members, faced the music.

Dwejra had been identified as a prime site since the 1990 Structure Plan and the 2006 Gozo Local Plan.

If the pre-electoral debacle at Mistra – another Natura 2000 site –according to the Mepa auditor should have been subject to an “appropriate assessment”, it was in the public interest to know whether such an assessment had been made regarding the film shooting in question. If not, why not? Who had taken the decision to flout standing rules and regulations?

Mr Brincat also asked who was directly responsible for the monitoring on site at Dwejra. He claimed rumour had it that rather than being carried out by the environmental arm, it had been handled by the Planning Directorate by a person who did not have any specialisation in natural environmental issues.

He said that former Film Commissioner Oliver Mallia had filed an application with Mepa on behalf of Pellicola Ltd, saying the company had an insurance of €5 million to cover any liability. In his application Mr Mallia had said that the company would ensure to leave the site in a better state than it would have found it.

The Labour MP agreed with a leading environmentalist who claimed that the recent statement by the Mepa environment chief on Dwejra made it easier to understand why environmental degradation in Malta found so little resistance.

It was saddening to learn that the Gozo eco-scandal had ended up in US websites linked to the film industry. On the same day that the media were carrying reports of the Dwejra dumping, the Prime Minister was stating in Parliament that an action plan was under way to develop Dwejra into a heritage park.

Mr Brincat asked the government to verify reports that foreign divers had found plumes of particles in the sea close to Dwejra as a result of this incident, particularly since coralline limestone material had been used.

He also queried whether management plans on Dwejra were in place and being properly implemented. He deplored government attempts to play down the EU Commission’s concern and probe on the matter.

Mr Brincat queried the role of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage in this saga, saying that the time for cover-ups was over.

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