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Stop putting the economy before nature or Azure Window will crash down sooner - NGO

These aerial shots by reader David Morgan shows the extent of the cracks.

These aerial shots by reader David Morgan shows the extent of the cracks.

Environmental interests should outweigh economic ones if Gozo's iconic Azure Window is to continue standing, an NGO has warned.

A no-go zone on the rock should be recommended and authorities should stop being short-sited by encouraging tourists to be allowed to walk on it, Nature Trust Malta said this morning.

"This will only lead to a shorter lifespan of the window itself. Furthermore, there is a human risk that further erosion can even pose a danger to persons on top and could lead to a tragedy both for those on top and those underneath."

The NGO reacted after a report in yesterday's edition of The Sunday Times of Malta said the Malta Tourism Authority sees no immediate need to take action to prevent people walking on the Azure Window.

In 2010 NTM had resigned as manager of the site as at that time because it felt economic interests were being put before the environmental and ecological interests.

The NGO had also informed the EU it could not keep managing the site as the management board at that time was not observing the main objective for which the Dwejra Life project had been granted funds.

"The iconic structure has over the years lost a lot of its strength. Heavy cracks were already visible at the start of the project in 2004. Being a natural structure, erosion would win in the end and the Azure Window would eventually become a simple stack."

NTM had at that time proposed that measures be put in place to slow down erosion one of which was actually stopping movement on this geological feature.

Recent Seismic activity in the areas surrounding Malta also pose a concern to this already fragile structure.

NTM had even tried to get the nine surrounding quarries to be rehabilitated to try get Dwejra into the World Heritage Site list.

"Of course these calls had fallen on deaf ears. A sustainability proposal was also never taken on board by the then management board."

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