An illegal environmental massacre taking place in a still untouched rural zone in Wardija has been stopped by the Planning Authority following a tipoff from environmental NGOs.
Just a few days ago, unknown developers descended on a rural area a few metres away from a secluded passageway leading to a historic WW1 battery to start illegal works, including the massacre of dozens of indigenous old trees.
Workers were seen using heavy machinery to clear the site and level it, including the passageway leading to centuries old carob trees.
The Shift visited the site and found that, while most of the trees had been taken away by the unknown perpetrators, others were piled off to the side, presumably awaiting removal in order to hide evidence of the massacre.
Environmental NGOs told The Shift that the clearance of the site was done without a permit, and it was clear that these illegalities were the first step in some sort of development in an unspoilt ODZ area.
A spokesman for the PA said that, following investigations carried out by the Compliance and Enforcement Directorate, “It results that the work on site consisted in the clearing of an existing path.” Insisting that such works “do not require any planning permission,” he added that “the uprooting/felling of trees falls within ERA’s remit.”
The PA posted a sign at the site ordering the works to stop until the perpetrators contact the authority.
NGOs told The Shift that it was only following a formal report that the PA sent its enforcement officers on site.
No enforcement notice had been issued by the PA at the time of publication.
NGOs told The Shift that Wardija has recently become a site of abuse and illegalities with little or no enforcement by the authorities.
“We are living in a culture where might seems to be right, as the authorities are very slow in controlling the erosion of the little rural environment left,” a spokesman said. “We need the PA and ERA to be proactive to make sure this abuse stops once and for all, and not leave it up to us to continue to police the environment.”
It is not yet known what action is being taken by the PA to ensure that the perpetrators return the site to its original state.