Bird Hunting
TOP NEWS | Sunday, 02 September 2007

Brussels shoots down Ta’ Cenc project

james debono

The Ta’ Cenc developers, already at odds with the Structure Plan, could face another insurmountable obstacle to their designs: the European Commission.
The EC is calling on the Maltese authorities not to authorise further development in Ta’ Cenc which would risk the integrity of sites that should have been proposed as Special Protected Areas.
The government has so far only designated the coastal areas of Ta’ Cenc as an SPA, but the EC deems this as insufficient and is calling on the government to protect other areas in Ta’ Cenc.
Asked by MaltaToday whether the EC is concerned by the proposed villa development in Ta’ Cenc, a spokesperson for the Commission replied that: “According to existing case law, the Maltese authorities cannot authorise interventions which incur the risk of seriously compromising the ecological characteristics of sites that should have been proposed as Special Protected Areas (SPA) or Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and must take all the necessary measures to avoid them.”
According to the Commission “the villa development project in the Ta’ Cenc area needs to be assessed with regard to its potential effects on the protected habitats and species present on the site and for which the site should be proposed as SPA or SCI respectively under the Birds and the Habitats Directive.”
The Commission spokesperson referred to the conclusions of a bio-geographical seminar for the Mediterranean region held in Brussels in June 2007.
“The seminar has concluded that the site designations by Malta are still insufficient. The Commission has invited the Maltese authorities to propose additional sites in order to cover these insufficiencies, particularly also in the Ta’ Cenc area.”
But the Commission would not identify which sites in Ta’ Cenc should be declared as protected.
“It is the responsibility of the Maltese competent authorities to determine, on the basis of scientific criteria, which particular parts of the area need to be designated.”
But the Commission is concerned that the boundaries of Malta’s four SPAs which are identified as Important Bird Areas is insufficient.
“As a result of this, the integrity of these SPAs is undermined,” the Commission spokesperson told MaltaToday.
Earlier this year, the Commission informed Malta about the remaining insufficiencies especially with regards to the Ta’ Cenc area, and requested clarification as to progress made regarding further designations.
Finally, on 27 June 2007, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Malta on the issue of insufficient designation of SPAs.
The Maltese authorities have two months to respond to the issues raised in the letter of formal notice.
The Commission now expects from Malta to designate additional SPAs and SCI and “take all the necessary measures to make sure that the species and habitats of Community interest are protected on the potential SPA and SCI sites.”
“If necessary the Commission will pursue the ongoing infringement procedure in relation to insufficient SPA designation and open additional procedures if appropriate measures are not taken by Malta with regard to the designation and protection of additional sites where necessary,” the Commission’s spokesperson told MaltaToday.
The Commission is confident that this will help convince the Maltese authorities of the need to fully comply with the provisions of the EU nature legislation.


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