The European Union’s Habitats Directive was “violated” by the environment department in its greenlighting of construction projects in the Cape Greco area, the Audit Office said on Wednesday.

It had carried out an investigation after the environment department revised the conditions of a special ecological report into the area, increasing the number of floors and height of buildings allowed to be built in the area.

It added that this revision had been issued without the publication of a supplementary report, therefore in effect not giving any formal reasoning for the revised decision.

To this end, it said the environment department “must rely on documented environmental data and ensure that each report complies with the provisions of the relevant EU directives”.

“If a supplementary report cannot be substantiated from a specifically environmental point of view with new data, the environment department must withdraw it,” it added.

It made reference to the plight of the greater sand plover, which faces the “loss and destruction of its habitat” should too much construction take place in the area.