The Sunday Times (Malta), July 16, 2006
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY URGES PROTECTION OF SENSITIVE AREAS
[Rachel's introduction: "The precautionary principle should be followed at all times to safeguard the unknown part of Malta's cultural heritage resources as required by the Cultural Heritage Act," the society said.]
By Fiona Galea Debono
The Archaeological Society of Malta, one of the NGOs in the Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar coalition, said yesterday that some archaeologically sensitive areas would be subjected to unnecessary urban pressure as a result of the government's rationalisation scheme.
Having viewed aerial photographs of the areas earmarked for inclusion in the development zone rationalisation, submitted following the issue of the draft local plans for public consultation, the society said that many appeared to go far beyond the criteria outlined in the Cabinet memo and should not be considered.
"The Gozo submissions in particular can only be described as a request to ravage its fragile landscape," said its president Patricia Camilleri. "No one with the good of Gozo at heart could possibly imagine that such submissions could be accepted, whether they interfere with archaeology or not."
An inventory of archaeology and archaeologically sensitive areas has already been compiled by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority for the purposes of the local plans and "in no way should these guidelines be transgressed", the society insisted.
It felt that several areas needed proper and professional investigation to ensure that the criteria outlined in the Cabinet memo were being adhered to.
However, it said, it was not simply a question of sticking to the criteria laid down by the Cabinet. "Retaining the integrity of Malta's archaeology is not only a matter of making sure that cart ruts are not built over, temple sites left untouched and buffer zones respected. Much of Malta's archaeology still lies under the ground and often stretches way beyond the visible, or recorded signs.
"The precautionary principle should be followed at all times to safeguard the unknown part of Malta's cultural heritage resources as required by the Cultural Heritage Act," the society said.
Also, in line with the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, physical manifestations of archaeology should be kept integral within their particular landscape. If this is encroached upon, the archaeology is, at the very least, disturbed and often dismembered, the society said.
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