It is well renowned amongst the Maltese community that environmental laws are all bark and no bite. Despite this shameful reality, I find it vile how some people think it is justifiable to use a protected area for filming and proceed to pollute or cause harm to it, while at the same time doing it on national television!
I came across the following promotional video on Facebook for the upcoming installment of a Maltese fashion oriented television show called Venere. This show, set to air on Sunday the 3rd November, shows a collection of models (with really uncomfortable faces) being splattered on with what appears to be relatively viscous water based paint.
This promotional video has been shot at Ghajn Tuffieha, which can be identified from the characteristic blue clay slopes (see picture below). The site is listed as an area of ecological importance and as an area jointly managed by MEPA and the Gaia Foundation. Moreover, the areas around the blue clay slopes are also listed as a Special Area of Conservation as part of coastal cliffs under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations 2003 (L.N. 257 of 2003).
As such I would like to pose two very simple questions to the Venere production team:
- Did you obtain a permit to throw paint around a protected area?
- How did you clean up after yourselves (if at all), or did you just leave the paint to wash down the slopes onto the small beach below and into the sea?
Furthermore more, I am pretty confident that the provision of a filming permit in a protected area limits certain practices that can be carried out within in. The haphazard sloshing of paint is most certainly one of them, as this itself is illegal under several legal notices covering marine pollution, environmental protection, chemical use, waste and pollution! An example of these is L.N. 344 of 2005 Environment Protection Act (CAP. 435) Abandonment, Dumping and Disposal of Waste in Streets, and Public Places or Areas Regulations, 2005 – which clearly states that it is illegal to dispose of litter that includes:
“any other object, material or substance deposited in a public place causing or adding a disorderly appearance of such place or detrimentally causing an effect on the proper use of the place, or which may, in general, increase the risk of health or environmental hazard to the public or the surrounding environment, or which may be a nuisance to the public”
And just to be even more thorough, a pubic places is defined as
“any place, privately owned or otherwise, to which the public has access, and including a street, sea, playing field and playing ground, field, valley, beach, fountain, watercourse, reservoir, well and swimming pool”
Also, to the Venere production team, you may want to rephrase the word dune to slopes ahead of your Sunday programme, Dunes are generally made of sand, not clay.
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Here is a reply I received on behalf of the Venere production team, which thankfully shows that I was not right and that the filming location was respected:
Dear Mr. Borg Micallef,
I am part of the Venere production team. I would like to show my appreciation for your work in writing environment-related-articles. I have environmental issues at hearth as well and most often I think that such issues are either ignored or taken with a pinch of salt. Hence I would like to thank you for your invaluable contribution, especially since I am aware of the commitment one needs to be able to write blogs and articles with such frequency.
However, I would like to kindly ask you to check your facts before publishing such insinuations and possibly slander. We would have appreciated if you had asked us your questions directly and we would have duly obliged. We would have not known you were asking them if someone had not indicated your blog.
We did not film in Għajn Tuffieħa; we filmed in Selmun. The viscous liquid you have seen in the promotion is not paint; it is milk, water and food colouring. That liquid was thrown on our models, we care for them and we care for our Islands. I would like to invite you to watch this episode on TVM next Sunday at 18:40 so that you can ascertain yourself that no trace was left on the slopes after we left.
We have been doing Venere for the past seven years. Practically all shots are taken on location and a very good number of the locations, we have had the privilege to shoot in, are pristine nature sites. We would not dare ruin them. We care for and really appreciate these locations and when we show them on national television we hope that more of our audience will grow to appreciate them, as we do.