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MALTATODAY 3 July 2022

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 JULY 2022 NEWS JAMES DEBONO FOR the past decades, planning debates as to whether large-scale projects can take place in sensi- tive areas like Hondoq ir-Rum- mien or the Dingli cliffs, have been prolonged by endless stud- ies despite the inherent incom- patibility of such projects with their surroundings. This reality was recently de- nounced by Environment and Resources Authority's chair- man Victor Axiaq in the ERA's annual report, reaffirming a recent objection of the ERA to a tourism development in Marsaxlokk. "There is the myth that an EIA would by itself solve all environmental issues arising from big developments. Not necessarily so," Axiaq wrote. For when "a proposed project is inherently unsustainable and by its very nature, is bound to lead to significant environmen- tal degradation, an EIA would be worthless." On the other hand, according to Axiaq it would be far more useful for the ERA to engage into detailed discussions with developers at the earliest possi- ble stage of planning, to ensure that what is being proposed is not "only economically but also environmentally and socially sustainable". "I have personally witnessed this happening on a number of occasions, even during the past year. Such initiatives very often go unnoticed and never gain the recognition that is due to our staff. But then, recognition and praise are not our top pri- ority. Having said so, it helps," Axiak said. And in this case the ERA is also practicing what its chair- man is preaching as in the case of a seven-unit tourist accom- modation complex instead of disused farming structures in Marsaxlokk, adjacent to an Area of Ecological Importance and a Natura 2000 site. The ERA said the development would effectively commit an 8,300sq.m area with significant uptake of undeveloped rural land – currently a large open EIA studies can't save unsustainable projects, says ERA chairman JAMES DEBONO THE Malta Sailing Federation wants to turn a 2,100sq.m sitein Mistra into an Olympic training base for demountable structures to store sailing equipment. The ecologically sensitive Mis- tra is designated for its high land- scape value, with past projects like a proposed outdoors disco on land belonging to former MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando having triggered outrage in the past. The Malta Sailing Federation insists the project will not have an negative impact on the sur- rounding environment. "As a sports federation involved in one of the most environmentally friendly sport activities, we have no intention of causing any ne- ga-tive environmental impact to Mistra," MSF president Mike Mifsud told MaltaToday. While acknowledging public concerns on the ecological value of the area, he insisted the pro- ject will entail no new construc- tion and will not result in any loss of agricul-tural land. Mifsud said the side is already paved with concrete and works will be limited to clearing the site from debris which has accumulated over the years. He said the proposed storage will take place in "removable concealed units" to en-sure the site can be returned to its prior state when no longer needed by the MSF. The area includes an already existing farmhouse that will be used as a briefing room and to host visiting coaches. A gate will be opened onto the road to allow access to the foreshore across Sailing federation's Mistra site faces objection from council The Malta Sailing Federation insists the project will not have an negative impact on the surrounding environment. "As a sports federation involved in one of the most environmentally friendly sport activities, we have no intention of causing any nega-tive environmental impact to Mistra." "There is the myth that an EIA would by itself solve all environmental issues arising from big developments. Not necessarily so" Environment and Resources Authority chairman Victor Axiaq reaffirmed a recent objection of the ERA to a tourism development in Marsaxlokk

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