Published on The Times of Malta on Saturday 23rd May, 2009.
The environment NGO Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar has welcomed a decision by Heritage Malta to buy land adjacent Skorba Temples in Mgarr on which development permits had been issued.
It however slammed MEPA for not having protected the temples in the first place by creating a buffer zone around them.
“While certainly a positive development, this is also something of a desperate and costly solution, especially as once this highly irregular permit was issued, Heritage Malta had to compensate the landowners at commercial rates” Astrid Vella, FAA coordinator, said in a statement.
“If MEPA’s policies for protecting monuments and respecting the same buffer zones designated by MEPA itself were working properly, then the money could have gone into restoration and interpretation of these historical sites.
"We are very grateful to Heritage Malta for intervening in this way although it reflects how poorly our historical environment is defended by the very Authority that has a duty to safeguard national heritage,” she said.
She said that the FAA was once again calling for the activation of MEPA’s Heritage Fund which was intended specifically for the purchase and upkeep of listed buildings or neighbouring land, in order to ensure the maintenance, restoration, or preservation of Malta’s archaeological and architectural heritage.
The authorities could also use EU funds in order to purchase from landowners, heritage sites and 'green lungs' which were of vital importance to the cultural heritage, health and well-being of local residents but which were currently under threat, such as those at Hondoq ir-Rummien, Wied il-Ghasel, Villa Bonici in Sliema and the Marsascala public open space.
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