A restaurant at Dwejra has been granted a permit for an extension – a decision which resulted in various reactions, including those of the Institute for Space Sciences and Astronomy at the University of Malta, BirdLife Malta and even the Environment Minister.
The decision for a permit to application PA/05372/17 was taken by the Revision Tribunal after the Planning Authority had refused the application.
Apart from an increase in tables and another awning in this outside development area, the main issue is the artificial light which causes damage on various levels.
Astrophysicist Dr Joseph Caruana of the University of Malta told TVM that Dwejra is protected in the local plan as a Natura 2000 site and a dark sky heritage area, and is one of a few places where a person may observe the Milky Way galaxy.
Dr Caruana stated that there are anomalies in the application on lighting, where a light installation was initially proposed, after which it was said that no new lights would be added. The PA Board also commented on how the applicant’s plan proposed lighting at this site.
Dr Caruana added that even the existing lights covered by the previous permit cause damage, adding that it had emerged from a study by the Institute for Space Sciences and Astronomy that these doubled the light in the sky during the night.
BirdLife Malta also said that the light and noise generated by the restaurant may negatively affect the population of Scopoli’s Shearwater in the vicinity.
BirdLife added that seabirds like the Scopoli’s Shearwater are badly affected by light pollution near their colonies when they are breeding, as the young are disoriented by artificial light and lose their bearings.
Meanwhile, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jose’ Herrera stated that he had discussed the issue with the Environment and Resources Authority, and is of the opinion the Tribunal’s decision should be appealed.