SOS Hondoq News

Saturday, June 30, 2007

EU starts investigating Ramla l-Hamra permit

Published on on 30th june, 2007 by David Vella.

Villas next to protected sites

Last Monday, hundreds of protesters called on government to revoke the Mepa permit for the building of 23 villas on the clay slopes between the Calypso Cave and Ramla l-Hamra Bay. A derelict building is currently occupying part of the site, which extends to just a few metres away from two listed areas, including a Natura 2000 site, recognised by the EU due to its international ecological importance. The protestors also urged authorities to stop the proposed mega construction project, including a yacht marina, a hotel and hundreds of apartments, at Hondoq ir-Rummien, another pristine Gozitan bay.

Over 8,000 Maltese and foreign individuals signed a petition calling for the annulment of the permit for villas at Ramla l-Hamra.

To view the whole article go to

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mepa helping to plunder Malta

Published on The Times Of Malta on Wednesday 27th June, 2007 by Mary Rose Busuttil.

Mepa is certainly marshalling all possible heavy weaponry to defend its beleaguered position in respect of the scandalous approval of the commercial project at Ramla l-Hamra.

This time it is resorting to shameless propaganda by not only exploiting the One World slot in The Times (Ulysses Lodge Redevelopment - the Facts, June 16) but also by wasting taxpayer money on paid adverts on the internet. By these means Mepa is trying to confuse the public with technicalities in an attempt to inject some respectability into what can only be called environmental vandalism. It is about time Mepa realised that Maltese society is more mature and that this kind of twaddle does not work any more.

The public does not care a fig about obscure bureaucratic details pertaining to the impressively numbered (PA 5138/02) "outline application" for a project deceptively described as "Re-development of a fully licensed commercial complex".

If we "let the facts speak", as this pathetic Mepa advert announces, the bottom line is this: This development is fiercely opposed by the local residents, the local council, non-governmental organisations, an overwhelming section of the Maltese public at large as well as the Church and yet all are ignored.

It is also not an essential development and, most importantly, it lies outside the Development Zone.

Maybe the Mepa chairman and Minister for the Environment can explain to readers why the interests of the local residents and the Maltese public in general, not to mention those of our tourist industry are not taken into account when taking these decisions.

The people are opposed to this and other likely tourist developments such as that at Hondoq ir-Rummien and ta' Cenc because they are sickened at seeing their heritage being systematically destroyed before their eyes in the pursuit of profit. It has become a case of the protector becoming the plunderer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One message prevails: "Stop Gozo's destruction now!"

Published on on Tuesday 26th June, 2007 by Kurt Farrugia and David Vella.

Hondoq next?

Paul Buttigieg secretary of the Movement Save Hondoq and a Labour Qala local councillor said that them together with the rest present at the protest are expressing their anger at the destruction of Gozo’s natural habitat and to save the little that is still left, especially Ta’ Cenc, Ramla l-Hamra, Mgarr ix-Xini and Hondoq ir-Rummien.

He appealed to the authorities not to ignore a local referendum at Qala about the Hondoq project which showed that 85 per cent of the residents are four square against the proposed monstrous project.

To view the whole article go to

NGOs join forces to protest against development in Gozo

Published on The Malta Independent on Tuesday 26th June, 2007 by Juan Ameen.

Moviment Harsien Hondoq secretary and Qala local councillor Paul Buttigieg said that he was protesting against the destruction of Gozo’s environment, especially the development overlooking Ramla l-Hamra, Mgarr ix-Xini and Hondoq ir-Rummien, and to save the little that is left.

He pointed out that many historic places in Gozo, such as Fort Chambray, are already lost.

"We are worried that, after Ramla L-Hamra, Hondoq Ir-Rummien will be next,” said Mr Buttigieg.

He added that 85 per cent of the Qala residents, who voted in a secret referendum, voted against the project.

“This referendum should not be pushed aside for a simple survey,” he said.

To view the whole article, go to

Il-Bord tal-MEPA ibbuwjat

Pubblikata fuq l-Orizzont nhar t-Tlieta 26 ta' Gunju, 2007 minn Gaetano Micallef.

Paul Buttigieg, Segretarju tal-Moviment Hondoq ir-Rummien u kunsillier mill-Qala, wissa li l-ambjent naturali f’Ghawdex jinsab mhedded u wara li l-gzira Ghawdxija tilfet postijiet storici bhal Chambray issa t-theddida tinsab fuq Hondoq ir-Rummien.

Martin Galea tkellem dwar it-theddid li qed jiffaccja l-ambjent lokali kif ghamlet ukoll is-Sindku tax-Xewkija Monica Vella li fost ohrajn semmiet it-theddida ghall-inhawi maghrufa bhala “Tal-Kus” hdejn Mgarr ix-Xini u John Mizzi, kunsillier mis-Sannat, li wissa dwar it-theddid ambjentali f’Ta’ Cenc fejn hemm proposti li jsiru mal-120 villa.

Biex tara l-artiklu kollu, idhol fuq

Hundreds attend Save Gozo protest

Published on The Times of Malta on Tuesday 26th June, 2007 by Mark Micallef.

Organisers took issue with the proposed marina development at Hondoq ir-Rummien and the waste transfer facility at Mgarr ix-Xini, limits of Ghajnsielem.

The protest ended with the singing of the national anthem and the presentation of a petition to Parliament. A number of NGOs issued press releases against the project. The Archaeological Society commented on the "inexplicable" waiving of the EIA by Mepa which, it said, "has adopted a narrow and dangerous view".

"An EIA is not simply a matter of examining the plot of land but of looking at the whole development in relation to a much bigger picture," the society said in reference to the fact that the authority took a detailed inspection of the plot by a team of archaeologists as constituting sufficient study.

To view the whole article go to

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Harbour Master deems Hondoq "unique" for swimming

Published on by David Vella on 23rd June, 2007.

Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay is “the only suitable bathing area available to both the Gozitans and Maltese, during rough weather conditions from the Northwesterly sector”.

In a letter to Mepa, the Harbour Master of Malta, states that if the authority approves proposed building of a yacht marina, a hotel and 250 residential units, “the worst effect of this development on the social and economic aspect of Gozo, is that the availability of suitable swimming sites to the rest of the community during adverse weather conditions from the North West and North will be reduced”.

The Harbour Master’s letter, seen by, was sent after the Malta Maritime Authority was requested to study the proposed development and comment on the potential effects that this construction project may have.

The proposed construction project at Hondoq is one of the developments that has caused all Maltese green NGOs to unite and organise a protest march in Valletta, to be held on Monday 25 June, at 1830hrs. The protest, entitled ‘Save Gozo’ will also be voicing the public’s outrage against the recent permit for the building of 23 villas at Ramla l-Hamra, metres away from an internationally recognised special ecological area of conservation. Three organisations formed by Gozitan residents, the Save Ramla, Save Hondoq, and Save Ta’ Cenc action groups, will be voicing their objections to the “rape” of crucial green areas in Gozo.

(For more information on the situation at Ramla l-Hamra and Hondoq ir-Rummien, click here – this is not an advert paid by Mepa).

The developers have just completed an environmental impact statement (EIS) on their proposed construction project, parts of which have already been revealed by

The study was commissioned by Mepa as a requirement for the processing of the development application of their proposed yacht marina and apartments. The EIS includes, amongst others, reports penned by marine scientists stating that currently, “the bathing waters at this locality must be one of the safest and cleanest for Gozo”. Yet, with the excavation and construction works planned, and the resulting increase in marine traffic once the yacht marina is opened, the clean waters of this pristine bay will be degraded.

The Harbour Master notes that once the proposed project is approved, “most of the bathing and parking areas currently in use will be taken over by the marina itself and other developments. Trying to keep the sandy beach [as the developers are pledging] is not the only factor because a lot of swimmers use the adjoining rocks for bathing”. Thus, he urges the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to “take into consideration the social impact of this development”.

In response, the developers insist that they will be providing more access to the beach by creating 90 parking spaces for the public and re-build the existing wharf currently used by bathers. Yet, Qala residents opposing the project are insisting that in summer there are usually much more than 90 families using the beach, and moreover, swimmers extend beyond the wharf to the rock shore that will be excavated to create the yacht marina entrance. Thus, the area for bathers will be still be significantly reduced.

Hondoq ir-Rummien EIA (1)

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 24th of June, 2007 by Mr Angelo Xerri.

The Hondoq ir-Rummien environment impact assessment is based on half truths, and is written mostly in favour of the developer. It gives you the feeling that some of these people who prepared this assessment, have never even been or know where Hondoq ir- Rummien is located.

First of all, how can this beautiful pristine bay enjoyed by hundreds of people in winter, and thousands in summer, people from all over the world you might say, be called a dumping site.

There was never a report from anybody complaining that this bay was full of garbage; the contrary to what the EIA states. Foreign residents and Maltese from Malta invested in property in Qala and Gozo as a whole to enjoy this bay. These are the people the EIA should have checked with.

The EIA also states that the beach will not be effected during the construction of Qala Creek Project. Who in his right mind is going to swim or enjoy the nature of this place when noise, dust mixed with diesel fumes, and explosions from rock blasting only metres away are the order of the day for five years?

If bathing is allowed during the predicted five years of construction somebody might get killed because the road is not wide enough for a dump truck and a car to pass each other.

The road between the Conception Sanctuary and the Rim Rock chapel is too narrow. It is estimated that every four minutes a dump truck will use this road. MEPA should note that, if the project gets the go-ahead, the beach and the road to the Rim Rock chapel has to be closed from day one. These trucks will be driven only a few feet from the wall of the Conception Sanctuary, which is hundreds of years old. Is this the way we are trying to protect our heritage? Did anybody from the Gozo diocese read the EIA or know about this?

The EIA does not mention that some of the residents in the Conception hamlet are going to be disturbed by the loud noise, diesel fumes and dust since these huge trucks are going to be driven only a few feet from their houses to go up very steep narrow hills.

The EIA did not mention that in Qala there is already a huge problem with trucks servicing the quarries using all the major roads, including Qala Square. These trucks are to join the Qala Creek Project trucks, which could mean a truck per minute or less. There are already rumblings from foreign residents that they will pack up and leave Gozo. Some of them moved from Sliema and Mellieha to get away from construction.

Is it possible that this project is going to employ 600 workers during construction, and after five years when complete employ another 600 when all the hotels, including the yacht marinas in Gozo, don't have this many employees?

MEPA should never issue permits for the Qala Creek Project based on this EIA alone. Another EIA must be carried out that protects the people of Qala and Gozo as a whole. It would be humiliating for Qala residents and Gozitans and a threat to democracy if permits are issued for the project at Hondoq ir-Rummien, where 85 per cent of residents already voted against the project in a referendum held by Qala council.

Hondoq ir-Rummien EIA (2)

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 24th June, 2007 by Dr J.A. Consiglio, Ph.D.

The rapes of Tigné, Manoel Island and practically the whole of formerly beautiful Sliema - ditto all of Xlendi in Gozo, the ghettoisation of Bugibba, and soon the rest of Qawra, the coming Pendergardens, the ghastliness of Xemxija Hill... the list is endless - simply confirms that as much as MEPA's board may have done in the past, or is hell bent on continuing to do now, it has long lost its credibility as an institution that can command respect.

That it does not realise that, in a small country 17 miles by nine, it should really be in the business of saying 'no' many more times than 'yes', is symptomatic of the extent it has become the lapdog of (in order) politicians, speculators/developers/builders/architects' lobbying power, and finally the moneyed classes.

And its ridiculous procedures, which allow a land- or property-owner to keep applying again, and again, and again, for building structures in areas where a permit is repeatedly refused, is yet another example of why it is now, in most uncommitted and sensible people's perceptions, a perfect example of "a state within a state".

To quote just another example, Dr Alan Deidun (The Sunday Times, June 10) refers to permit application PA04286/99 which is about an obscene attempt to build in St Paul's Bay on (a) a coastal cliff, (b) an area which is of proven archaeological value, (c) includes a cave of geological importance, (d) where MEPA recently approved an ADT application for a needed close-by road enhancement in what is essentially a very narrow area and cannot absorb any development at all without encroaching on the close-by garigue.

MEPA only need to bow to this application and accept it to confirm, yet again, the general people's perception. After that, then the raping of the whole of the opposite side of the bay, the yacht marina in Xemxija, and nature can as much as go to hell on the altar of... as named.

Leave the bays alone

Published by The Times of Malta on Sunday 24th June, 2007 by Mr Adrian Gatt.

It seems that no part of the Maltese Islands is safe from the developers' grasp. And now Ramla l-Hamra is next on the list, a picturesque bay at the end of an astounding basin, one of a kind out of the half dozen beaches that we have on these tiny islands.

Yet, preservation of the few assets we have is still unheard of. Do we have to urbanise Gozo? What will tourists come over for? Does it have to be an Italian environment minister to tell us that we should preserve Gozo and promote it for agro-tourism? Aren't we capable of coming to these conclusions ourselves and acting on them?

Three of the accessible beaches in this archipelago - Ramla l-Hamra, Golden Bay and Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay are, to a high extent, still in a pristine condition with the only exception of a derelict building overlooking each of these bays, namely Ulysses Lodge, the Riviera Martinique and a rather huge building blocking the valley opening of the latter. What is even worse is that for each of these premises there are building applications for redevelopment and beyond into functional commercial and touristic facilities.

Are these premises really considered necessary to improve the Maltese package both for us locals and for tourism, or would it be much more beneficial if these areas were left in their natural state for the benefit of all? Don't we have enough bays with hotels and tourist facilities overlooking them? Can't we have the option of choosing to go to unspoilt beaches? After all, we do not have kilometres of sandy beaches to choose from. All together, they might add up to a few hundred metres to cater for 400,000 inhabitants, plus tourists.

When the government takes a private property (the property of Mr Nobody, a decent taxpayer) for the interest of the country to build a road (of which we have more than enough) or public amenity, can't this same procedure be emulated and these three premises in question be demolished and the areas reinstated to their former natural glory?

The only problem with these is that the owners are Mr Money! Does the government have enough courage? The majority are waiting for this move. As the Sliema residents were elated when the Jumbo Lido at Qui-si-Sana was demolished and the area returned to citizens, the Maltese people and tourists alike would welcome such a courageous move, if someone up there were up to the challenge. MEPA are you up to it?

The only drawback to this is that there is no monetary gain in this one!

Ramla and Hondoq... an open letter to MEPA

Published by The Malta Independent on Sunday on Sunday 24th June, 2007 by Leslie Causon.

I am writing this letter now so that we avoid hearing and reading the reasons and excuses why MEPA has decided to allow the development and eventual destruction of Hondoq ir-Rummien bay in Qala.

We are all still shocked with the approval given to the development overlooking one of the loveliest bays in Gozo – Ramla l-Hamra. We thought that MEPA would have found enough reason to make right what was then a mistake when the development of the ex-Ulysses Lodge was “approved”.

At the moment, MEPA is considering an application for development at Hondoq ir-Rummien. This is how our government website describes this area:

“The small sandy beach and its crystalline water makes Hondoq Bay very popular among the local population especially in summer.

Apart from an ideal swimming zone, the bay is also renowned for diving, especially for beginners. During summer evenings a number of local families stay late in Hondoq to relax by their smoking barbeques enjoying the cool summer breeze.”

Before MEPA takes any decisions and then tries to find reasons to justify its actions, I would like to remind the board members that:

In the recent referendum held by the local council, 85 per cent voted against any form of development in this area.

There is no need to build a yacht marina in order to embellish a disused quarry. In 2002 the Qala council had proposed a project that would rehabilitate the area – and this was refused!

We do not need to find an excuse to build a 170-bed, 5-star hotel, 25 villas, 60 self-catering units, 200 multi-ownership residences, 731 underground parking spaces, 10 shops and five restaurants. A village within a village... in an “Outside Development Zone”

The village of Qala cannot take the additional traffic generated during the construction work and after the project is eventually completed. Access to the area is limited to a very narrow street by the parish square... unless there is a further reason to justify further construction by the coast and build a separate access road to Qala!

Irrespective of all the reasons and guarantees given on paper, there is no way the clear blue waters at Hondoq will be suitable for swimming if a marina for 150 boats is built. The bay will be destroyed forever.

I urge MEPA and the government to enter into discussion with the Qala local council on how to embellish the area without building more hotels, which will eventually turn into flats. I know this will not please developers but the government should hear what the people want. It is elected by the people for the people!

No one disputes the fact that the area needs to be embellished but we need to find a way to conserve the natural beauty of the area.

All excuses given later will be futile.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Who do Mepa represent?

Published on The Times of Malta on Saturday 23rd June,2007 by James A. Tyrrell.

Due to the recent publicity caused by the decision by Mepa to grant a permit for the environmental destruction of the site at Ramla l-Hamra, I have been asking myself the question: Who do Mepa represent?

Do they represent the ordinary people of Malta and Gozo? Apparently not as they never seem to take a blind bit of notice to the objections raised by the people living in the areas affected by their decisions.

Do they represent tourists? As a tourist myself I would say definitely not.

Why would I as a tourist be in agreement with the destruction of the very things I come to the islands to see? If I wanted to holiday in a bland tourist trap I'd go to Spain.

Do they represent the environment? Again, apparently not as they are the ones giving permission for the environment to be destroyed.

The only people who get any form of representation from Mepa seem to be, oddly enough, developers! If I was a citizen of Malta or Gozo the question I would want answered is why are Mepa giving the green light to developments, which are effectively destroying the country's history? Given the position Mepa holds it is imperative that conflicts of interest do not arise.

Mepa chairman Andrew Calleja stated in his tirade against the FAA that he would definitely step down if any irregularities were to emerge. That's nice of him and to be honest I doubt if he would be missed. However, I would suggest that should any irregularities emerge Mr Calleja should not get the chance to step down as he put it. He should, in fact, be suspended along with the rest of the board pending legal action!

I am not writing this letter as a wake-up call to the people of Xaghra, because unfortunately they don't need it, but as a warning to every citizen of Malta and Gozo. The time has come to stand up to these environmental terrorists. They are trying to destroy Ramla l-Hamra and Hondoq ir-Rummien at the moment. Where will they attack next? How long before the developers and Mepa arrive in your village?

We do not own this world we live in. It is a gift from God who has been good enough to create it and make us mere custodians. We have an obligation to God to take care of it to the best of our ability. We also have a duty to our children as they have to theirs, to pass on the beauty that was passed to us by our parents and grandparents. What we do not have is the right to destroy what God has created in order to make a profit!

X’qed jigri fl-ambjent?

Pubblikata fuq l-Orizzont nhar l-Hamis 21 ta' Gunju, 2007 mill-ufficcju info. GWU.

Li ahna poplu li fil-parti l-kbira taghna m’ahniex konxji tal-harsien ta’ l-ambjent huwa fatt maghruf. U prova ta’ dan jaghtuh ir-rimi ta’ skart ta’ kull xorta fil-ftit kampanja li fadlilna f’pajjizna, l-ispekulazzjoni bla razan fil-widien u l-hafna bini storiku li jinsab mitluq u qed jaqa’ bicca bicca. Imma li issa jkun il-Gvern li flok jikkastiga lil min ikun hati ta’ reati kontra l-ambjent ikun hu stess, jew agenziji u awtoritajiet li joperaw f’ismu, li b’decizjonijiet taghhom ikomplu jgharrqu l-ambjent Malti, hi xi haga inkredibbli. Xi haga li ma titwemminx.

Kieku ma kienx hekk, fix-xhur u l-gimghat li ghaddew ma kinux l-ghaqdiet ta’ l-ambjent kollha flimkien jinghaqdu b’vuci wahda fi protesta soda kontra l-qirda li qed issir jew li ppjanata li ssir fiz-zmien li gej. Il-lista ta’ postijiet fejn gie attakkat l-ambjent hija twila wisq ghac-cokon ta’ pajjizna.

Hafna ghadhom jiftakru l-istorja tal-Wied tal-Kalkara, kif ghadha friska l-memorja ta’ hafna nies dwar il-kontroversja li nqaghlet bil-bini li tela’ fil-Wied tal-Madliena. Ukoll il-korsa tal-golf li b’xorti tajba l-Gvern dawwar hsiebu dwarha. Milli jidher imma dak li m’ghamilx bil-korsa tal-golf, il-Gvern se jaghmlu mod iehor f’inhawi ohrajn. Ma kienx bizzejjed ghalih li gibed fuqu l-ghadab ta’ tant Maltin meta fissa z-zoni l-godda ta’ l-izvilupp. Jidher issa li se jghid iva, jew hu inkella l-MEPA f’ismu, biex jigu mmassakrati r-Ramla l-Hamra u l-bajja ta’ Hondoq ir-Rummien f’Ghawdex.

Biex tara l-artiklu kollu idhol fuq

Teqirdux is-sbuhija ta’ Ghawdex

Pubblikata fuq l-Orizzont nharl-Hamis 21 ta' Gunju, 2007 minn Dr. Justyne Caruana.

Ghawdex ghandu sbuhija naturali li taghti lill-gziritna valur mizjud. Dan il-potenzjal ta’ min jirrikonoxxih u jippromwovih. Imma minkejja li hawn hafna li jghajtu li jhobbu lil Ghawdex u li ghandu jigi protett, meta mbaghad nigu ghall-fatti nsibu li l-verità hija mod iehor.

Wara li tlifna lil Marsalforn u x-Xlendi in konsegwenza ta’ zvilupp bl-addocc, mess imbaghad lill-wied ta’ Imgarr ix-Xini fix-Xewkija u lil Hondoq ir-Rummien u dan bil-barka tal-Gvern u ta’ l-Awtorità ta’ Malta Dwar l-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar. L-ahhar erezija mbaghad kienet l-approvazzjoni tal-permess ghall-izvilupp qawwi tar-Ramla l-Hamra.

Fejn il-MEPA turi id tal-hadid ma’ min jiftah xi tieqa ikbar milli suppost, fil-kaz ta’ dawn il-vilel kollha, Alla jbierek, il-‘policies’ kollha gew sodisfatti. Il-MEPA suppost qieghda hemm biex tissalvagwarda l-ambjent u mhux tkun il-bojja tas-sbuhija naturali ta’ Ghawdex taghna.

Biex tara l-artiklu kollu idhol fuq

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Will Mepa pull its head out of Ramla sand? (2)

Published on the TImes of Malta on Thursday, June 21, 2007 by Anne Zammit, St Julians.

Throughout the Ramla permit saga, Mepa has continued to insist (NGOs To Stage Protest Over Ramla Permit - June 19) that "no objections whatsoever were received" during the 15-day window when the outline permit was quietly placed on their website along with hundreds of other applications for comment.

A few pages later, in Mepa's own One World ("Let the facts speak!") slot the authority listed four legal objectors - Gaia, AD, Xaghra residents and Din l-Art Helwa when the Ramla site came up again in a full development application. If such wide-ranging objections are to count for nothing, why did Mepa submit that application for public comment at all?

The objection from Din l-Art Helwa, an organisation which relentlessly goes to great pains to check and re-check the facts, was "sent late". We hope this was not grounds for rejection of the well-researched submissions. At least someone inside Mepa has got their facts right. Why were these objections not given equal prominence in the press accounts? It is little wonder public trust of Mepa's double dealings has crumbled when the right (development) arm seems not to know or care what the left (environment) arm is trying to drive home.

The system is not working. The concerns of a united environment front of NGOs, vigilant enough to notice this sad fact, should be heard out calmly with respect and shown every due attention while strong restraint toward the rampant mega-project fast-tracking via dubious waiving of EIAs or the proper (not cosmetic) landscape impact studies is urgently put in place.

I look forward to a good public turnout for the rally being organised by NGOs at City Gate, Valletta on Monday at 6.30 p.m. to raise full awareness over the developments which are poised to strike at the heart of Gozo again - Ta' Cenc and Hondoq ir-Rummien coastline.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Damage to tourism (1)

Published on The Times of Malta on 19th June, 2007 by Joe Portelli, Ghajnsielem.

Apparently tourism is Gozo's largest and most significant industry. So how does destroying the natural beauty of Ramla l-Hamra equate to attracting more tourists?

Or for that matter how does developing and ruining Hondoq ir-Rummien and Ta' Cenc, two of the most picturesque places left on Gozo, attract tourists?

I've yet to meet a Maltese or foreign tourist who comes to Gozo to enjoy the congestion and traffic of Victoria, the "scenic beauty" of concrete buildings, streets laden with construction equipment, and what's left of our fast diminishing countryside littered with filth.

And we want to attract tourists? What a bad joke!

Ramla development: Blasphemy

Published on on 19th June, 2007 by Dr. Justyne Caruana.

After a long day in Malta, many Gozitans including myself, get a terrible headache which wonder of wonders disappears as soon as we get to Gozo. Gozo gives you a sense of peace and serenity and its natural beauty soothes all sores of a terrible day.

Ramla l-Hamra is one of the best assets of our beautiful island. I remember learning to swim at Ramla and spending long days on the picturesque beach with family and friends, enjoying the vastness of the beach itself and the background. I used to wonder how vegetation could be so close to the beach as if trees and plants grew in sand.

This natural beauty is now threatened. We already lost Marsalforn and Xlendi. Hondoq ir-Rummien and Mgarr ix-Xini Valley are also under siege with Mepa’s blessing. The people who should be guarding Gozo from insensible and unsustainable development, or better say, posing as such, seem to side these big fish while showing a firm hand with the small one.

Policies are there to be applied and not moulded to fit some and not others. The Ramla l-Hamra issue shocked all the country and no wonder people are protesting and petitioning to authorities regarding this blasphemy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

'Non!' to Moulin Rouge in Malta

Part of an article published on The Times Of Malta on 9th June, 2007 by Dr. Anthony Licari.

Hondoq ir-Rummien

I believe the government must also make a mature u-turn in the case of Hondoq ir-Rummien. The place may not be clean enough but this is no justification to destroy it to please the usual developers. Do you destroy your house or bring concrete mixers into your garden when they only need to be cleaned? A needed clean-up is no excuse to create another ecological disaster. Above all, the vast majority of people living in the area - plus the vast majority of Gozitans and Maltese - want to leave Hondoq in its natural state. This is what democracy is all about. Putting one's clumsy claws on this area of beauty would simply mean arrogance, authoritarianism and voracious capitalism - besides another big chunk off PN votes in the next election.

To view the whole article, go to

Ramla l-Hamra development is beyond belief

Published on on Sunday June 10th 2007 by James Alexander Tyrrell.

I have just been reading about the latest fantastic decision by MEPA to approve the development of a 23-villa tourist complex on the slopes leading to the Calypso Caves at Ramla l-Hamra.

Am I missing something here? Are MEPA not supposed to be working to protect the environment? I thought the fact that the proposed development at Hondoq ir-Rummien was even being discussed was bad enough, but that MEPA have actually approved this Ramla l-Hamra development is beyond belief.

Perhaps I’ve got MEPA’s role totally wrong here and in fact their job is to smooth the way for money grabbing developers to ruin the entire island!

To view the whole article, please use the following link.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A tourist's letter to Dr Gonzi, yet unanswered

Published on by david vella on 6th June 2007.

An Irish tourist who visits Gozo every year sent a letter to the Maltese Prime Minister, urging him to stop the proposed “concrete jungle” at the pristine Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay, in Qala.

James Alex Tyrrell, wrote to Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi, on 13 May 2007. Almost a month later, all he has received back is an acknowledgement, informing him that his letter has been received, the tourist said to this e-newspaper.

Tyrell explained to Dr Gonzi: “People like myself are attracted to Gozo by the tranquillity, the history, the beautiful views and the Old World charm of the island. In other words, these are the very things, which this project would destroy. Can you honestly say that this makes sense to you?”
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority is currently processing a Gozitan developer’s application to turn Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay into a yacht marina, a hotel, and 250 residential units. has seen parts of the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the developers’ on the authority’s request. Environmental groups are currently analysing the statement, which clearly states that the proposed construction is very likely to have a negative impact on the sea up to a number of kilometres away from the site. Studies show that the bay currently has the one of the clearest waters in Gozo.

“Beyond belief”

“The very idea that anyone would want to turn this beautiful place into another concrete jungle is beyond belief,” Tyrell wrote, “in the course of my life I have been to a lot of places throughout the world, but I have never been to a more beautiful, tranquil and historic place than this tiny island. I love every part of Gozo but nowhere more than Hondoq ir-Rummien. It is like a natural meeting place, a melting pot of nationalities, and indeed last year I spent a lot of time there talking to fellow tourists and local people. I met people from Malta, Gozitans and tourists from all over the world, all gathered together in this beautiful little bay.”

The tourist explained that he is planning to continue coming to Gozo for his yearly two week holiday, and is also thinking of living in Gozo, once he retires. He explains that rather than going to hotel, he rents a house, because “I want to feel part of the island, part of a community, and you can’t do that by staying in a hotel”. Yet, he notes that if Gozo changes in the way that the Hondoq ir-Rummien project is being proposed, then he will think twice about returning to Malta.

After Hondoq, where next?

“I love the island so much I am hoping to spend my retirement there as well. I say hopefully because whether I do or not depends on the island staying as it is. I met people there last year that have been going back every year for 28 years. I met another couple who have bought a house there and go out two or three times a year. I am therefore asking you, in fact begging you, not as a Qala resident, although God knows you should be listening to these people, but as a tourist and potential future resident to throw your weight behind this campaign to prevent this development taking place. I know that you care very much about your country”.
Tyrrell asks the Prime Minister numerous questions. “It is my understanding that hotels in Gozo are closing down due to low occupancy rates, so where is the logic in building more? What local beauty spot will be next on the developers’ list after Hondoq ir-Rummien? And what will happen to all these ghastly developments when the tourists stop going to Gozo because there is no longer anything for them to see?”

Keep Gozo as it is

Dr Gonzi is also reminded that 85% of Qala residents expressed their opposition to the proposed project in a referendum. The letter also mentions a website set up by the residents,, and urges the Prime Minister to have a look at the 1,800 plus comments left by people from all over the world.

“Gozo has been described as the island that time forgot. I urge you to do all you can to keep it that way and not let these developers whose only interest is money destroy it” the tourist’s letter ends.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

An open letter to the Prime Minister

Published on on Sunday June 3rd 2007 by James A. Tyrrell.

Dear Sir,

I am writing this letter to you by way of support for those campaigning against the proposed development at Hondoq ir-Rummien,Qala, in Gozo.

I come to Gozo every year for my annual two week break in paradise, because that is how I see the island. In the course of my life I have been to a lot of places throughout the world, but I have never been to a more beautiful, tranquil and historic place than this tiny island. I love every part of Gozo but nowhere more than Hondoq ir-Rummien. It is like a natural meeting place, a melting pot of nationalities, and indeed last year I spent a lot of time there talking to fellow tourists and local people. I met people from Malta, Gozitans and tourists from all over the world, all gathered together in this beautiful little bay. The very idea that anyone would want to turn this beautiful place into another concrete jungle is beyond belief.

What attracts people like myself to Gozo are the tranquillity, the history, the beautiful views and the Old World charm of the island. In other words the very things, which this project would destroy. Can you honestly say that this makes sense to you? When I come to Gozo each year I don’t stay in a hotel I rent a house. I want to feel part of the island, part of a community and you can’t do that by staying in a hotel. And as the lady who arranges the houses for me would tell you I prefer old houses as they have more character.

It’s my understanding that hotels in Gozo are closing down due to low occupancy rates, so where is the logic in building more? What local beauty spot will be next on the developers list after Hondoq ir-Rummien? And what will happen to all these ghastly developments when the tourists stop going to Gozo because there is no longer anything for them to see?

Of all the residents of Qala who took part in the referendum regarding this proposed development 85% were against it.

I suggest that you take some time to look at the website these people have set up at and read some of the 1836 comments which have been left by people not just from Gozo and Malta but from all over the world.

As I said earlier I come to Gozo every year and will hopefully continue to do so until I retire. I say hopefully because whether I do or not depends on the island staying as it is. Because I love the island so much I am hoping to spend my retirement there as well. I met people there last year that have been going back every year for 28 years. I met another couple who have bought a house there and go out two or three times a year. I am therefore asking you, in fact begging you, not as an Qala resident, although God knows you should be listening to these people, but as a tourist and potential future resident to throw your weight behind this campaign to prevent this development taking place.

I know that you care very much about your country. This was evident to the watching world by your recent decision to call a halt to the planned golf course at Ix-Xaghra l-Hamra and stopping the spring bird-hunting season early. I therefore ask you to show the same forward thinking attitude towards your little sister.

Gozo has been described as the Island that time forgot. I urge you to do all you can to keep it that way and not let these developers whose only interest is money destroy it.

Thank you for your time.

Yours Sincerely,
James A. Tyrrell

Quo Vadis, MEPA?

Pubblikata fuq It-Torca u Kulhadd nhar l-Hadd 3 ta' Gunju, 2007 minn Dun Lawrenz Theuma.

Mhux se nidhol f’dettalji ta’ stejjer li, fl-istorja ta’ mijiet ta’ snin, idejnsetghana tefghu lill-Qala lura minn irhula ohra. Però, qieghed jinhass sew li idejn simili regghu bdew iferfru biex jaghtu imbottatura ohra.

Dan l-ahhar, il-Ministru ghal Ghawdex habbret li ksibna fondi mill-U.E. biex isiru toroq lejn id-Dwejra, Xlendi, Marsalforn u r-Ramla fin-Nadur. Il-bajja ta’ hondoq ir-Rummien, li qieghda fl-isbah panorama naturali ta’ Ghawdex u li jzuruha mhux biss Ghawdxin izda mijiet ta’ Maltin u barranin, fejn hallejnieha? Dik mhux il-Qala qieghda! Sew jghid ix-xih Malti li hadd ma jahsillek wiccek biex tidher isbah minnu.

Izjed minn hekk. Dan l-ahhar f’Ghawdex tqassam fuljett mill-MEPA, “Pjan Lokali Ghalik” bi ‘slogan’: Pjan lokali biex kulhadd jghix ahjar. Verament attraenti u jixraqlu kull tifhir. haqqu verament prosit min sawru. Ma setax ikun iktar ideali! Ghall-informazzjoni tal-qarrejja nikkwota xi punti:

•harsien tal-widien, moghdijiet ta’ l-ilma u x-xaghri

•holqien ta’ xibka ta’ moghdijiet bejn l-irhula u l-kampanja ghat-tgawdija ahjar mill-pubbliku u t-turisti li jzuru Ghawdex.

•harsien tas-sisien u l-irdumijiet minn zvilupp bla bzonn.

•Proposti ghal titjib fil-facilitajiet edukattivi, tas-sahha u facilitajiet ohra tal-komunità.

•harsien tal-access ghall-kosta.

•Identifikar ta’ siti (inkluzi dawk zdingati) biex isir thawwil ta’ sigar u holqien ta’ oqsma ghat-tgawdija tal-pubbliku.

•Proposti ta’ tkabbir tax-xtajtiet imrammla.

Kemm huma proposti sbieh ghal Ghawdex! X’hemm minnhom ippjanat ghall-Qala? Xejn affattu! Anzi l-maqlub! Boghod mill-ghajn, boghod mill-qalb!

Permezz tal-propost ‘Qala Creek’ sa l-istess isem etniku tal-lokalità ta’ hondoq ir-Rummien se jinqered ma’ iktar tkissir bla bzonn ta’ sisien u rdumijiet li fadal, biex jaghmel vera “eye sore”, permezz ta’ bini fl-isbah panorama naturali li tpaxxi l-ghajn, b’inqas access ghall-bajja, inqas spazju, ilma mnigges, artificjalità lil hemm minn dak li hu naturali u li tbieghed awtomatikament lil kull min ihobb il-kwiet u jitpaxxa b’dak li hu naturali. Nigu naqghu u nqumu mill-poplu li hemm isib, f’lejliet sajfin, l-isfog tieghu. Altru m’ghandniex ghal qalbna s-sahha tal-poplu!

U xi nghidu ghall-ilma tal-wied tax-xita? Snin ilu kien jimla wahda mill-barrieri li ma kienx hawn isbah minnha f’Ghawdex. Fis-snin ta’ hafna xita, anke fis-sajf, kien jibqa’ jidher niezel. Din illum mimlija bil-hamla li jgorr mieghu il-wied. Meta tfur, billi l-kanal li minnu kien johrog l-ilma biex jintefa’ l-bahar ’il barra mill-bajja, hu mimli, kif ukoll il-moghdija mnejn kien jghaddi, giet imbarrata b’gebel li thalla hemm minn min kien jaqta’ l-blat, qed jibqa’ niezel fil-bajja bil-konsegwenzi kollha li jgib mieghu.

Nigu issa ghat-thawwil tas-sigar. Sa ftit tas-snin ilu il-kunsill lokali kellu pjan biex f’hondoq ir-Rummien ihawwel numru ta’ sigar. Meta ttiehdet l-art minghand il-bdiewa, il-gvern kolonjali kien dahal f’kuntratt mal-bdiewa li qabel ma jerga’ jirritornalhom l-art lura, ihawwilha sigar. Izda, b’daqqa ta’ pinna ta’ ex-president tar-Repubblika, il-gvern esonera lilu nnifsu u tar kollox mar-rih, ghal snien l-ispekolaturi, minkejja li hemm kienet art ikklasifikata ODZ.

Minn dan kollu l-poplu tal-Qala x’se jgawdi? Izjed sahha? Iva. Izjed kontaminazzjoni ta’ arja, izjed hsejjes, izjed mard, izjed mwiet f’qosor il-ghomor, nuqqas ta’ rilassament u izjed tensjoni. Il-qerda tad-drawwa li, f’lejliet shan sajfin familji jingabru, jinghaqdu, jistriehu hdejn ix-xtajta waqt li jieklu loqma hobz jew xi bicca laham mixwija u jaqsmu bejniethom il-ferh u n-niket ta’ grajjiethom. Ir-raguni ta’ dan kollu hi li, illum f’Malta sirna min jiflah ihawwel!

Nittama li dan l-ilment iservi biex fil-lista tal-personalitajiet li isimhom jinzel fl-istorja tal-Qala ma jkunx hemm xi hadd li jisthoqqlu ikun fil-lista tan-naghga s-sewda!

Keeper of the Blue Flag

Published on The Sunday Times of Malta on 3rd June, 2007 by Anne Zammit.

Proposed marina status uncertain

A beach replenishment proposal for the sand at Hondoq ir-Rummien to be buried under more artificial material appeared in the original plans, although not much has been heard about it lately. There are concerns that the natural beach would suffer a negative impact if a sea arm had to be built to shelter a proposed marina hacked out of the coastline there.

At some later date we may expect to see a separate development permit application for Hondoq ir-Rummien appearing under the Malta Tourism Authority, or some other applicant, to artificially replenish sands that could be gradually eroded away by a marina real estate project.

Blue Flag criteria would certainly prohibit a marina from threatening environmental damage to the coastline, especially if this is clear even at the early planning stage. It is doubtful at this rate that Qala Creek marina could ever be accepted as a Blue Flag candidate since the existing public bathing beach stands to be irreversibly damaged if the project is permitted to go ahead.

The best time to declare St George's Bay a Blue Flag beach is when all the criteria have been met and the go-ahead given to raise the flag signalling high standards - not merely promised... but maintained.

From here on it will be up to an international jury to decide whether the Blue Flag will fly over St George's Bay each season. Vince Attard, president of Nature Trust, explains the process: "You get the pilot beach and if you make it to full criteria, within a year you get the Blue Flag."

It will take full co-operation from all concerned if Blue Flags are to fly on Malta's beaches and we will have to do all we can to keep them flying.

To view the entire article go to

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hondoq development may damage Comino

Published on by David Vella on 1st June, 2007

The proposed development of a large real estate complex, and a yacht marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay may have a negative impact on the sea several metres away from the site, up to the coasts of Comino, and further out in the channel between Malta and Gozo.

A scientific report forming part of the environmental impact statement commissioned by the developers clearly shows that when parts of the rocky shore are excavated to create a channel leading towards the yacht marina inlet (currently a disused quarry), an extensive quantity of particles will end in the sea. This will turn the waters murky, and lead to a significant degradation of the marine life in the area.

The report, parts of which have already been revealed in a report on Saturday, states that “the effect may extend to 1,000 metres away from the shore… this includes the nearest shoreline at Comino and the eastern-most tip of Gozo”.

It has been scientifically proven that Hondoq ir-Rummien is currently one of the cleanest bays in the Maltese islands. Several tests show that the bay is almost completely free of any impurities, and the waters are crystal clear.

Protected species affected

A second report comments that the high amounts of particles in the sea, brought about by the proposed excavations, (known as the Total Suspended Solids, TSS, level) in seawater may make it more difficult for light to reach the seabed. Due to this, “the plants will show a decrease in growth rate and in extreme conditions, may finally die off altogether”.

The two scientific reports focused on sea water quality and marine life, emphasise the harmful effect that the particles from the large-scale excavation works will have on the marine environment. One report lists numerous marine species that are currently listed in Maltese law as “animal and plant species of national interest in need of strict protection”. Moreover, there are parts of the seabed close to Hondoq ir-Rummien that qualify as protected habitats.

“High levels of severity of impact”

The scientists’ report gives particular attention to the posidonia meadows present outside the bay, and in the channel between Malta and Gozo. “It is quite likely that the posidonia meadows present in various parts of the Gozo Channel will also be negatively affected… the overall impact due to the release of TSS during the breaching of the excavated marina to the open sea, will be of major significance”.

Recalling the Portomaso experience

The proposed excavation of an artificial marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien is very similar to the Portomaso Marina built in the late 1990s, in St Julians. The difference between the two is that the sea quality of the latter shore was never as clean as that of the Gozitan bay. During the excavation works in St Julian’s effect of particles in the sea were felt several kilometers away from the source. “Regressions in the limits of Posidonia meadows were also quite evident… posidonia meadows at all monitored stations have suffered significant environmental damage”, recalls the report.

Mitigation measures may fail

At the same time, the scientific report notes that the developers are proposing a number of safeguards and mitigating measures. Amongst them is the building of “geo-textile filters” to stop particles from escaping into the waters once the coast is excavated. Yet, the report states that a considerable impact on the water quality will be experienced “even if all the proposed mitigation measures will be rigorously applied”.

The scientists also remind that a similar mitigating effort as that proposed by the Gozitan developers was used in a similar coastal project nearby. “The attempted deployment of geo-textile curtains to control particulate releases arising from the coastal engineering works at the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal, failed.”

In the report, “major significance” is the highest out of five levels of potential negative impacts. It is defined as “high levels of severity of impact or pressure with a moderate to high probability of it occurring over the whole zone and beyond, on at least one target level”.