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GEORGE TOWN, Jan 7 — Three years after the Penang government ordered all swiftlet breeders to clear out from pre-war buildings in the heritage zone, the state has finally declared the inner city clear of all bird nests.
A total of 128 swiftlet breeding farms were cleared out in four phases over the three-year operation, which was ordered to safeguard the city’s Unesco heritage site status.
The multi-million ringgit bird’s nest industry had been growing from within the inner city, especially in converted pre-war houses even, before the city was inscribed as a Unesco heritage site in 2008.
After George Town received the status, Unesco had advised the Penang state government to take firm action against swiftlet breeding in the inner city.
“Some of the operators have been cooperative in relocating their farms elsewhere but there are also some who had refused to move and tried to appeal,” Chow said in a press conference today.
He added that Penang would not risk its Unesco heritage status for the few operators so those who had refused to relocate had their swiftlet-breeding equipment seized and additional structures removed by local council enforcement officers.
“As at December 31 last year, all swiftlet breeding farms in George Town heritage city have been removed and all these premise owners were instructed to restore the buildings,” he said.
He added that the Unesco World Heritage Committee would soon meet to deliberate on the action taken by the state government to tackle the swiftlet breeding problem within the heritage zone.
“We have to take action to show that we have fulfilled the requirement of ensuring the zone is free from swiftlet farming,” he said.
Earlier, the Penang Island Municipal Council heritage department head Noorhanis Nordin said the enforcement action taken was also in line with the federal government’s Swiftlets Industry Guidelines, which were introduced on September 2, 2010.
Under the guidelines, swiftlet homes should be located at least 50 metres from “fully residential buildings” and those located inside heritage buildings should be subject to conditions drawn up by relevant authorities.
She said the council have held discussions with the Association of Swiftlet Nest Industry, operators and building owners to get the bird’s nest breeders to relocate their farms outside the heritage zone.
“We have seized and remove swiftlet breeding structures and can now say all of the 128 identified swiftlet farms have been removed,” she said.
Starting this year, the council will check on the former swiftlet breeding premises to ensure that no breeding activities resume illegally and that building owners have started restoring the buildings.- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/george-town-finally-free-of-swiftlet-farms#sthash.2AxASZXi.dpuf