SOS Hondoq News

Sunday, September 30, 2007

‘No U-turn’ – please do not play with words

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday 30th September, 2007 by Leslie Causon.

In his letter to the editor (TMIS, 23 September), Malta Labour Party Media Executive Mark Farrugia tries to convince your readers that Dr Alfred Sant and the Labour Party have not carried out a U-turn regarding their position on the proposed development of Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay in Gozo.

It was reported that in his interview on the Reporter programme of 11 September, Dr Sant said that any development “will be done together with, in full discussion and consultation, and in agreement with the residents and communities concerned...”

May I remind Dr Sant that the residents of Qala have already voiced their opinion on this matter in 2002, when an overwhelming majority of 85 per cent of the voters rejected the project.

It is time for Dr Sant and the Malta Labour Party to be clear and stop playing with words – do they or do they not agree with any form of development at Hondoq ir-Rummien? The residents of Qala would like to see the rehabilitation of this disused quarry that will mean the continuing enjoyment of this picturesque bay.

The Green Whistleblower - Clarification

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 30th September, 2007 by Alan Deidun.

Hondoq concerns

The following is a continuation of the concerns expressed by Nature Trust in connection with the Hondoq ir-Rummien project Environmental Impact Assessment. I hope that such a review is met with some constructive feedback, rather than criticism.

Employment figures projected in the Farrugia Report are highly speculative. For example, it lists 1,980 jobs for hotel operations after the 11th year, by which time the local and regional tourism scenario might have changed drastically.

Analogies with other Gozo-based hotels show that five-star accommodation is not necessarily also in demand. Also, how was it calculated that there would be 182 jobs at the commercial centre? This is detached from any major residential area; hence, it is difficult to assign such a high figure to this centre.

Excluding the 50 jobs to be generated by the marina operations (and these will be fully available only after the 11th year), all other jobs (e.g. in the construction sector) will be terminated after the fifth year.

It has been admitted that the "supply for residences is much greater than demand". So why is there a need for 200 units? Within the same section, it is 'unlikely' that manpower would need to be imported. This does not sound very convincing.

Again, by self-admission, current demand for five-star hotel accommodation is weak and the proposed development will not help in this respect (those in favour of the project rebut this by saying that the 'hotel is part of an integrated project unique to Gozo') and mentions San Lawrenz and Ta' Cenc as other five-star properties in Gozo, without saying that part of San Lawrenz has been converted into apartments.

The same section states that cash flow is expected to be positive only after the seventh year, with a negative cash flow in the first four years. This raises doubts over the feasibility of the project.

Additional concerns include:

No guarantees (especially financial ones) to preclude the project's future expansion to the west and east of the delineated footprint, since this land is also owned by Gozo Prestige Holidays.

The preamble refers to the number of berths in France and Spain, two hot spots of coastal urbanisation, where a large percentage of the brown algae Cystoseira spp has been lost.

'Win-win' scenarios are frequently referred to in the report (e.g. preamble, p. 8). This would involve filling in the disused quarry and its development into an ecotourism venture (such as has been done with Limestone Heritage, Siggiewi) with no need to develop a yacht marina or other tourism development. Such infilling is no longer subject to an EIA, by virtue of recent amendments to EIA regulations.

The report claims that the swimmers' zone will be extended. There is no need for this, since a simple safeguard of the existing zone would suffice.

It also states the "bathing area will be protected from boats". Physically it will be, but how can anti-fouling paint, oil and other discharge fail to get into the bathing area? Will marina operators allow access only to boats certified to use prescribed anti-fouling paints for example?

The marina will cater for five berthing spaces for boats up to 45 metres. Their size itself would cause congestion in the immediate vicinity of the marina and their engines can churn up fine particles from the benthos in shallow areas.

Moreover, the financial feasibility is worked out on many assumptions, namely: (a) price of real estate (this might stall in the future); (b) sustained demand by locals; and (c) sustained demand from foreigners. How can one confidently state that 'the turn-over expected is adequate'?

In Chapter 4, the results of two different surveys are reported (a Three Villages survey and an All Gozo Survey) but no reference is made to the referendum held for Qala residents by the local council, despite the fact that this village has a vested interest in any decision.

It is not stated who conducted these surveys. The way survey results are reported is also flawed - e.g. "of the village residents, just 38.9 per cent said they disliked the marina". Does this mean that 61.1 per cent of respondents favour the marina? What about respondents who declined to answer or were non-committal? Such statistics are rarely provided in the report.

To view the whole article go to

MLP spokesman on the Environment and National Heritage

Published on on Sunday 30th September, 2007 by Roderick Galdes.

The open letter to the Malta Labour Party by James A. Tyrell (Gozo News, 26th September 2007) deserves some reflection. First of all, I do not accept Mr. Tyrell’s excessive comments about politics and politicians. Politics is not about “exploitation”, as Mr. Tyrell states; my experience so far is that politics is a noble service that entails a lot of family hardships and personal sacrifice. The last thing on the mind of honourable politicians like Dr Sant is the “screwing” of people, especially at election time.

Mr. Tyrell may have grown accustomed to the screwing antics of the party in government over the past several years, but then that should be another valid reason to vote Labour in the next election. We are the party of change.

Mr. Tyrell lambasts Dr Sant and the Labour Party for what he calls a “U-turn in the matter of Hondoq”. He states that he remains unconvinced with Mark Farrugia’s media release in which, according to Mr. Tyrell, Mr. Farrugia has “adopted the classical political tool of semantics”. Sheer nonsense, Mr. Tyrell! But many thanks for raising the issue once more and providing me with another opportunity to clarify matters even further regarding Labour’s position on the Hondoq ir-Rummien project proposal.

Apologies, but this is not a matter of answering with a blunt “yes” or “no”. I refer all Gozitans, the environmentalists and, nonetheless, Mr. Tyrell himself, to the Labour Party’s Media Release of the 14th October 2006 in which the Party’s views about the abovementioned project are clearly stated. As far as Labour is concerned, both the steam-rolling of public opinion (but especially the Qala residents) by government and MEPA in the handling of the Hondoq proposal, and the scale of the project itself are totally unacceptable. Mr. Tyrell’s portrayal of a situation where Labour is taking its same councillors and the Qala populace for a ride is unjust and blatantly malicious.

I understand that Mr. Tyrell’s wrath is fuelled by his complete misunderstanding of Dr Sant’s reply when the Labour leader was interviewed by Saviour Balzan on TVM (Reporter, 11th September 2007). On that occasion Mr. Balzan raised the Hondoq ir-Rummien development issue and, on asking Dr Sant for further clarifications about the matter, the Labour leader promptly intervened about the need to strike the right balance between safeguarding our islands’ environmental resources - especially the unique Gozo sites - and the exigencies of the country’s tourism sector. Whereas Dr Sant argued that well-planned “stand alone” projects such as yacht marinas may be compatible with developing our tourism industry in a sustainable manner, he did not mince his words with regards to the deleterious impacts resulting from overly massive projects such as the one being proposed for Hondoq.

Mr. Tyrell may have expected Dr Sant to refer to Hondoq more specifically. Instead, the Labour leader preferred to talk in broader terms arguing that the rampant over-development and speculation with real estate in Gozo are effectively harming Gozo’s economy and the island’s tourism industry, and this needs to be kept in check in the interest of society at large. I assure Mr. Tyrell that under a new Labour Government no decision about any yacht marina or any other project whatsoever shall be taken unless the project in question is deemed sustainable and within the parameters of the environmental impact assessment regulations as stipulated by EU law.

On a final note I would like to remark on Mr. Tyrell’s inspirational quoting of the words of 19th century American lawyer and US Democratic Party politician William Jennings Bryan. Good to know that the annals of history recall William Jennings Bryan as a staunch opponent of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

An open letter to the Malta Labour Party

Published on on Wednesday 26th September, 2007 by James A. Tyrrell.

I would like to express my deep disappointment at the recent U-turn performed by Dr. Alfred Sant with regard to the proposed Hondoq ir-Rummien marina development. I don’t think anyone should be surprised by the exploitation in modern day politics but Dr. Sant and the Labour Party has managed to surpass themselves.

Whilst people like myself the voting public and in this case in particular the voting public of Qala can expect nothing more than to be screwed by politicians, we must remember that there are others involved here. The other persons I’m referring to are the Labour councillors for Qala of whom one of them was very vociferous against the Hondoq Project.

Now call me cynical but I get the impression here that they have been used by the MLP in order to secure the votes of the people of Qala in the upcoming election. Obviously I don’t know them but I get the impression that they were and hopefully still are very respected members of the Qala community. I say hopefully because I’m assuming that the people of Qala realise that they are victims here too.

Mark Farrugia, Media Executive for the Malta Labour Party has through the press denied that Dr. Sant has made a U-turn in the matter of Hondoq, but he has adopted the classic political tool of semantics to do so. Given the fact that there is an election coming up I would suggest that the MLP for once in their life’s give a straight answer to a straight question. If elected to Government are you the MLP going to support the development of a marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien? Yes or No?

The MLP had a noticeable presence at the Save Gozo protest but this protest was not just about Ramla. It was also a protest against the proposed developments at Ta Cenc, Hondoq and Mgarr ix-Xini. Why have Labour committed themselves against the proposed development at Ramla yet not done so in the case of the other three? Dr. Sant in his interview said that the proposed marina development at Hondoq would only take place after consultation with the people of Qala. Surely the referendum in which 85% of Qala residents voted against the development should be enough of a consultation. After all he accepted a 52% majority to join the EU which he was against.

To Dr. Sant in particular and the MLP in general I say shame on you. To treat the people of Qala in this despicable manner is disgusting. But to treat your own members in this way is beyond words. To Moviment Harsien Hondoq and to the people of Qala, in particular the 85% who voted against this development I say to you the fight must go on. In the words of William Jennings Bryan, “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” You the people must make your voices heard.

To the councillors, again in the words of William Jennings Bryan I say, “The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armour of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error.” I wish you strength in your coming battles.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Developer says no comment

Published on The Times of Malta on Saturday 29th September, 2007 by Mark Micallef.

Astrid Vella from Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar was not as restrained. "We are very satisfied with the decision to discuss the revocation of the permit," she said, stressing that the permit should have never been issued on grounds of ecological and heritage values, as well as the conservation of the landscape.

"We trust this signals a change in the way Mepa will examine other such Out of Development Zone (ODZ) permits in the future, like those of Ta' Cenc and Hondoq ir-Rummien where we feel that the proposed development, particularly the marina in the second project, violates the residents' rights."

The revocation itself does not mean a retraction or admission of any mistake on the part of Mepa once the argument it forwarded is purely legal.

To view the whole article, go to

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hondoq ir-Rummien

Pubblikata fuq it-Torca nhar l-Hadd 23 ta' Settembru, 2007.

L-ahhar tas-snin 60 raw il-bidu tal-qirda ta’ Hondoq ir-Rummien. Fl-1969 kien inghata bidu ghall-progett tad-distillatur ta’ l-ilma li sewa l-miljuni u hadem biss ghal ftit granet, fejn jinghad li flixkun ilma kien jiswa lill-gvern daqs flixkun whisky. Ghal dan il-progett kellu jinqata’ hafna blat min hdejn it-truf tal-wied ta’ Hondoq. Bil-bini ta’ dan id-distillatur tbidlet id-dehra naturali ta’ dan il-wied u ckienet il-bajja.

Fl-25 ta’ Aprl 1970 il-Gvernatur Generali tagt in-notifikazzjoni Nru. 309 kien iddikjara li l-art tal-Hondoq kienet mehtiega mill-awtoritajiet ghal skop pubbliku. Dak iz-zmien inqata’ hafna blat kbir ghall-bini ta’ breakwater gdid fil-port ta’ l-Imgarr. Gvern Laburista kien irranga kemm il-bajja tal-Hondoq ir-Rummien kif ukoll it-triq li taghti ghaliha fejn kienu thawlu pjanti tal-fjuri fil-gnub tat-triq. Matul is-snin 90 taht tmexxija Nazzjonalista l-barrira abbandunata mnejn kien jinqata’ gebel tal-qawwi biex isir irham ta’ Ghawdex kienet bdiet tintuza bhala radam li kien jingarr mill-progett turistiku ta’ Forti Chambrai. Il-Partit Laburista kien pprotesta kemm minhabba il-kruha u t-tkissir ta’ l-ambjent, kif ukoll minhabba l-impresjoni hazina li kienu jiehdu dawk l-barranin li jzuru din il-bajja.

Permess tal-Gazzetta tal-Gvern f’Gunju 2002, il-gvern Nazzjonalista hass il-htiega li din l-art ma tibqax aktar mehtiega ghal skopijiet pubblici u ghalhekk l-art ta’ madwar 44,498 metru kwadru nghatat lura lill sidha.

Skond artiklu li deher fl-Orizzont ta’ 14 ta’ Novembru 2002, miktub minn P. Lucjan Borg OSA., jaghti x’jifhem li din l-art kienet ilha f’idejn l-Agostinjani mit-2 ta’ Mejju 1586 u ghanda imposta fuqha l-obbligu ta’ quddiesa wahda fil-gimgha. Jidher ukoll li l-bejgh ta’ din l-art lill Gozo Prestige Holidays jgib id-data tad-19 ta’ Gunju 1988 fejn jidher li l-Agostinjani hadu hsieb il-prezz jigi aggustament tal-prezz jekk il-kundizzjonijiet ta’ l-art kellhom jinbidlu, dan l-artiklu jindika li ma kellhom l-ebda ghan ta’ spekulazzjoni.

Nahseb li l-ispekulaturi li xtraw l-art ma kellhomx il-hsieb li jhalliha blat xaghri jew kienu ser jahdem ir-raba. Din inxtrat ghall skop ta’ zvilupp turistiku kif irrizulta wara.

Fl-2002, l-istess sena li l-gvern ta lura din l-art lis sidien attwali, dawn ghamlu applikazzjoni ghall-progett gigantesk bl-isem ta’ Qala Creek li jikkonsisti fl-lukanda five star, appartamenti, time sharing units, yacht marina, restaurant u dak kollu li ghandu x’jaqsam ma’ l-industrija turistika. Dan jindika li l-hsieb ghal dan il-progett kien mahsub u mahdum bizzilla.

L-izviluppaturi ma qaghdux jaraw li wahda mill-isbah bajjiet naturali ser tinqered darba ghal dejjem, bl-inkonvenjenza u t-tbatija li se jbatu n-nies tal-Qala, bid-dhahen u storbju li igib mieghu dan il-progett. Ma qaghdux jaghtu kas tal-kummerc li inhaloq matul iz-zmien fil-pjazza tal-Qala jew jekk jinqalix darba ghall dejjem ghax dawk li ikunu sejrin jiddevertu jippreferu imorru f’villagg turistiku fejn verament issib kull xorta ta’ divertiment, milli joqoghdu ghad-dhahen velenuzi tal vetturi li jghaddu mil-pjazza.

Illum in-nies mhumiex boloh. Il-kotra tal-Qala f’referendum li kien organizzat mill-Kunsill Lokali fl-2002 dwar dan l-izvilupp, 85% ivvotaw kontra. Permess tal-vot taghhom il-Qalin tkelmu u ghall ftit ta’ snin ghaddiet ir-rieda tal-maggoranza.

Matul is-snin il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qala kompla jsebbah din il-bajja naturali. Fl-1995 il-Kunsill tal-Qala kien applika biex Hondoq ir-Rummien isir Park Regjonali. Izda ggall xi raguni jew ohra din l-applikazzjoni waqghet fuq widnejn torox u il-permess baqa’ ma harigx. F’dawn l-ahhar jiem waslitilna informazzjoni li f’gurnata wahda matul dan l-istagun tas-sajf f’din il-bajja kien hemm 280 karozza ipparkjati. Individwi gibdulna l-attenzjoni li fil-progett propost qed joffri biss parkegg ta’ 90 vettura u ma jghid xejn jekk dan il-parkegg hux ser ikun bi hlas.

Jidher li l-izviluppaturi ta’ din l-art ma qatghux qalbhom u sahansitra injoraw ir-rizultat tar-referendum. B’hekk fl-ewwel xhur ta’ l-2006 regghu ssottomettew pjanti godda mall-MEPA dwar il-progett Qala Creek din id-darba fuq skala izghar. Jidher ukoll li dwar dan l-izvilupp kemm Gonzi kif ukoll il-ministru ghal Ghawdex huma favur il-progett, u jekk dawn verament jemmnu fid-demokrazija jafu sew li ma jistghux imorru kontra il-maggoranza tal Qalin li ivvotaw kontra dan il-progett. Rizultat ta’ referendun jista jinbidel biss b’rizultat ta’ referendum iehor. Izda issa jidher li dahlet il-politika fin-nofs. Qabel sahansitra l-Knisja tal-Qala tkelmet kontra dan il-progett, fil-present tinsab muta.

Ma nixtieqx nispicca dan l-artiklu minghajr ma insemmi il-kappella storika li hemm f’din il-bajja tal-Hondoq, ddedikata lill Madonna tal-Blat. Jidher li meta l-Agostinjani ghamlu il-ftihem ghall bejgh, dawn ma kellhom l-edba taghrif dwar li l-kappella tal-Madonna tal-Blat kienet fuq dan it-territorju. Malli saru jafu, dawn permess ta’ l-avukat tag]hom bl-ittra tas-16 ta’ Settembru ghamilha cara lill-izviluppaturi li fil-imsemmija raba’ hemm kappella maghrufa b]ala l-Madonna tal-Blat amministrata mid-Djocesi ta’ G]awdex li hi extra commetrcium (jigifiri li mhix ghal bejgh) u qatt ma kien hemm l-intenzjoni li tigi trasferita lix-xerrejja u qatt ma giet hekk trasferita. Fl-atti tan-nutar li saru bejn il-kumpanija u l-Knisja tal-Qala fil-26 ta’ Awissu 2002, jinghad li l-kumpanija tiddikjata li l-Parrocca imsemmija hija propjetarja unika u assoluta ta’ l-istess kappella. Qed insemmi dan ghax xi hadd qed jipprova jidhaq bin-nies meta skond pagna li waslitilna mahruga mil-MEPA f’Jannar 2006 jindika dawn il-precisi kelmiet. “The chapel dedicated to the Madonna tal-Blat situated in the Western zone has benn passed on to the Qala parish as part of the project. In fact the chapel originally was part of the property owned by Gozo Prestige Holidays. This chapel at the moment presents two partucular environmental problems. The first is the landscaping associated with its parvis, the other is the dumping of waste originating from church decorations on the nearby garrigue. The promoters of the project are ready to help intervene and upgrading the area as part of the overall landscaping exercise which is an intergral part of the Qala Creeck project”.

Inhalli il-poplu jiggudika xi skart jista johrog min din il-kappella li hi maghluqa u tinfetah biss ghal xi okkazzjoni . L-upgradin tat-triq l-izviluppaturi iridu jaghmluha skond kif jaqbel lilhom. It-triq pubblika li hemm li se tkun trasferita ghal post iehor.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No U-turn by any number of degrees

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday on 23rd September, 2007 by Mark Farrugia.

I refer to the news item by David Lindsay “Sant’s Hondoq U-turn infuriates Gozitan Labourites” (TMIS, 16 September).

Lindsay wrote: “After a fanfare press conference held last October at Hondoq ir-Rummien – at which Malta Labour Party leader Alfred Sant had deplored plans for a mega tourism project involving the construction of a yacht marina, apartments and a hotel – Dr Sant declared in a televised interview (on 11 September) that the party would favour the construction of a yacht marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien, but that it was still against the accompanying residential and accommodation developments.”

To view the whole article, go to

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A rather strange interpretation of honesty

Published on Written by James A. Tyrrell

Alfred Sant says that Labour is always honest. He goes on to say, ‘We have understood the country’s need for change and we will give you that change’.

This is the same Alfred Sant who last October held a press conference at Hondoq ir-Rummien stating that the 85% of Qala residents opposed to the development were justified in their opposition.

The same Alfred Sant who called the marina project an exploitation of priceless land and not what Gozo or Qala needed, a stance I might add which won Labour a lot of support in the area. The same Alfred Sant who now says that he is in favour of a marina.

This seems to be a rather strange interpretation of honesty. In Great Britain we are used to politicians going back on their word. However they usually wait until they are elected before doing so!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Shifting positions on Hondoq

Published on The Times of Malta on 21st September, 2007 by Charles Sammut.

During the last presidential election here in the US, the Republicans ran a campaign ad showing John Kerry windsurfing and described his positions on issues as shifting depending on which direction the wind was blowing. And he also got the label of a flip-flopper: Which unfortunately for him stuck and I am sure helped contribute to his narrow defeat.

Guessing from his latest policy shift on the Qala Creek project it does seem to me that Alfred Sant does not value much the voters' perception of his candidature and certainly does not mind giving ammunition to his detractors.. I am referring to Dr Sant's constant shifting on the proposed Hondoq project. He is on record as first being for it; then against it just before the council elections were held in March and now he came out for the project again.

Unfortunately, as far as I and many others are concerned, he is now on the wrong side of the Hondoq issue. Hondoq is absolutely beautiful the way it is and any alterations that change its character would be the death knell of Hondoq as we all know it. Destroying what everyone can enjoy for the benefit of a few is not a sound judgement.

I guess Dr Sant must have forgotten about the fate of Mgarr and Andar hotels. Both closed down recently and are being converted into apartments. And I can deduce with a reasonable amount of certainty that he does not subscribe to the theory that the more new projects take place on Gozo that disrupt its natural beauty the less of a tourist attraction it will become.
May I humbly impart a little advice to Dr Sant. Do not change your mind on issues for political expediency because voters do not particularly take kindly to flip-floppers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sant’s Hondoq U-turn infuriates Gozitan Labourites

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday 16th September, 2007 by David Lindsay.

After a fanfare press conference held last October at Hondoq ir-Rummien – at which Malta Labour Party leader Alfred Sant had deplored plans for a mega tourism project involving the construction of a yacht marina, villas, apartments and a hotel – Dr Sant’s U-turn on the issue this week has infuriated Gozitan Labourites opposed to the project.

It was actually less of a U-turn and more of a 180-degree turn when Dr Sant declared in a televised interview the party would favour the construction of a yacht marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien, but that it was still against the accompanying residential and accommodation developments.

The statement represents a considerable backtrack from the strong opposing stance the party had taken late last year.

Until now, the project’s opponents had taken solace in the fact that while the government has backed the enormous tourism development, the MLP and Alternattiva Demokratika had stood foursquare against it.

But Dr Sant’s remark this week has thrown a new dark cloud over dissenters’ efforts and many Gozitan Labourites feel they have been betrayed by the sudden change of tack.

One thing can be said for the government and AD: they have never changed their stance, but the same cannot be said for the MLP. Labourites, especially those from Gozo and from Qala in particular, have been venting their anger over the latest policy shift.

This is part of the article. To view the whole article, go to

Alfred Sant should make up his mind about Hondoq - AD

Published on on 18th September, 2007.

Alternattiva Demokratika have said that the Malta Labour Party and the Nationalist Party are like puppets on a string, controlled by land speculators and building contractors.

Alfred Sant’s recent statement, that he is in favour of a yacht marina in Hondoq ir-Rummien, is a clear confirmation that the Labour Party was not being honest when it said that it was against all development in the area just before the local council election in Qala last March. The Labour Party is trying to please one and all and has no clear, serious policy when it comes to the environment. Ralph Cassar, AD spokesperson for Energy and the Environment said that MLPs policies favour the few instead of defending the common public good.

To view the whole article, go to

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fiddling as Gozo burns

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 16th September, 2007 by Charles Sammut, New York.

It is refreshing to see so many concerned citizens and visitors alike voicing their opinions against the proposed projects on Gozo; most notably Ta' Cenc, Ramla and Hondoq. Unless I missed it I have yet to read a letter in favour of any of these projects. Obviously the consensus out there is that these places belong to everyone and should not be exploited by the few for monetary gains. The little countryside left on the tiny island of Gozo ought not to be disturbed; rather preserved for everyone to enjoy now and for future generations to come.

Of course we all know that the fish stinks from the head. Mepa would not be acting in this fashion if it were not for the power entrusted to it by the government. Yet, I see all the anger addressed at the proprietors and at Mepa itself and nobody points out the fact that if the government wanted to stop this controversy all it has to do is amend the law. Like Nero the government fiddles while the Gozo landscape is eternally ruined.

Yes, indeed, appointing Mepa as a watchdog is tantamount to appointing a fox to guard the chicken coop. I am certain that if the government or the Ministry for Gozo stepped in and declared certain areas as "untouchable" then Mepa would be out of the loop and its rubber stamp for destroying these areas would forever be taken away.

Here in the city of NY once a building is declared as a Landmark by the City Council it cannot be torn down or even altered. It certainly should be a consideration.

A green pledge by the Bishop

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 16th September, 2007 by Alan Deidun.

Hondoq ir-Rummien concerns

The Hondoq ir-Rummien EIA proposals, for which the public submitted comments by the end of last June, is overtly biased in favour of the development:

• Document downplays reclamation of 1,500 metres of coastline;

• "The usual suite of invertebrates, mainly insects and molluscs.... no attempt was made to identify these since, in the main, they consisted of ubiquitous species" - one should note that some insect and mollusc species are listed in the Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands in view of their restricted distribution, etc., and some are also consequently protected by virtue of local and/or regional legislation. Also, no exhaustive faunal surveys were conducted on site, with surveyors limiting themselves to "records of Western whipsnake and unidentified geckos". A prima facie, this ecological appraisal is slipshod and incomplete;

• No description of the impact of the generation of particulate matter on marine filter-feeding organisms is included;

• The following statement found in the same section of the report is especially opinionated: "These two fears (i.e. the deposition of particulates in water column would disrupt the feeding processes of shoreline invertebrates and may damage sessile ones and would mechanically increase turbidity and interfere with aesthetics, feeding, locomotion and gas exchange in organisms and with beach sediment budget) are unfounded, since, with the measures taken, particulate matter will not enter the water column."

• The same section also speaks about redistribution of particulate materials in water columns such that it exerts only an insignificant impact on biodiversity. Have any ad hoc studies on settling rates of part matter in the water column been carried out?

• "Excellent buffering capacity of seawater will counteract lowered pH of effluent" - have any studies been carried out to substantiate this statement? "Nitrophilous species expected to grow in marina base but not to affect outer area." Although run-off from the marina base will be treated in settling tanks, these can't remove substances in suspension and doubts exist as to the consequences in the eventuality that such tanks are not functioning properly;

This is part of the piece on Hondoq ir-Rummien. To view the whole article, go to

Into the breach once more

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 16th September, 2007 by Lino Bugeja.

Our euphoric feelings last May over the laudable Government declaration of converting ix-Xaghra l-Hamra (Manikata) into a National Park, heralded "our spring of hope". This was only to be rudely followed once again by a "summer of despair" as we witness an unscrupulous onslaught on the idyllic Gozo countryside and archaeological heritage, as brutal as the barbaric siege of 1551, threatening Ramla l-Hamra, Ta' Cenc, Hondoq ir-Rummien, Ras il-Wardija, Mgarr ix-Xini, and the Gozo prehistoric Stone Circle in Xaghhra, also known as the Brocktorff Circle. These are places we must save for future generations. Is nothing sacred any more?

To view the whole article, go to

Growth must trickle down – Sant on Reporter

Published on The Malta Today on Wednesday 12th September, 2007 by James Debono.

Interviewed by Saviour Balzan in yesterday’s Reporter, on TVM, Sant also announced that Gozo will need a standalone golf course at Ta’ Cenc, but that it should not be accompanied by any residential development.Sant also declared that a future Labour government would consider a “standalone” yacht marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien, but again ruling out any residential development around it.

A four to five per cent economic growth remains the key to find the finance necessary to fund Labour’s list of social priorities, which includes grants to first-time homeowners and subsidies on interests paid by homeowners.

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A double whammy

Published on the Times of Malta on 12th September, 2007 by Toni Farrugia.

I find it cruelly ironic that while the Prime Minister's pre-budget consultation exercise was billed as "Gozo: A Unique Island", a handful of property developers are, with single minded determination, set on burying under rubble this very same uniqueness. Although the Gozitan landscape has not yet been scarred to the extent of its Maltese counterpart, this is certainly not for want of trying. But, while to date this destruction, or development if you will, has been piecemeal and on a small scale (just look around you), two substantial chunks of wholesale destruction are now in the pipeline - the Hondoq ir-Rummien and Ta' Cenc projects. I will, for the purpose of this contribution, not include the Ramla Bay and the airport affairs.

The respective developers are promoting their projects as "limited", and are even brazen enough to proclaim that they are environment friendly as they will be enhancing dilapidated sites! But make no mistake, as always in matters of this kind (the San Lawrenz Hotel, anyone?), this is the thin edge of the wedge and the developers will, as surely as day follows night, be back for more when they feel that the time is ripe. Much has been written about these projects, so I will add only one point. Victor Borg (August 18) claims that the Heritage Park will take nearly 60 per cent of the whole area, a stretch of land larger than Valletta. Correct me if I am wrong, but does that mean that the remaining 40 per cent, together with the Hondoq ir-Rummien thing are as large as Valletta? If this is so, then all I can say is that I feel like I have just been hit by a double whammy by the current heavy weight world champion, whoever he may be.

Mepa is, admittedly, on the horns of a dilemma as it tries to appease diametrically opposing interests (always an impossible task), and will probably end up pleasing no one. However I do think that it is a problem of its own making. It could have made it clear from the start to the developers that an ODZ is an ODZ, and that no amount of verbal gymnastics is going to change that. Period. Otherwise the process of drawing up the Structure Plan would be sheer waste of taxpayers' money.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hondoq ir-Rummien doesn't count

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday 9th September, 2007 by A. Xerri

Can the Authorities or somebody explain why Hondoq ir-Rummien is never listed or advertised along with other beaches in newspapers?

Hondoq ir-Rummien is the best and the most visited beach besides Ramla Bay. It is the most popular beach, and also most important for Gozo when the wind blows from the west, northwest and north. It beats Ramla Bay and all the others put together.

Hondoq ir-Rummien has all the facilities that other beaches have in Gozo, and is the cleanest with less jellyfish bar none. Its waters are tested regularly and it is the least polluted beach of all beaches in Malta and Gozo according to tests carried out by the Health Authorities. There are road signs in Qala village for Hondoq Bay but that’s about it, many people never heard of it because it is not mentioned in newspapers with the others.

Is there some kind of conspiracy going on to help the developers build the proposed Qala Creek Project in what is the only pristine bay left in Gozo, and destroy it forever? Are they keeping this area on the low side of advertising on purpose?

If so the Authorities must be reminded time and time again that 85 per cent of Qala residents voted against this project in a referendum held by the Qala local council.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Reflections by a worried visitor

Published on The Times of Malta on Monday 3rd September, 2007 by Charles Sammut.

And when a body like Mepa, that is supposed to protect the environment, gives the green light to building and land developing projects at places like Ramla l-Hamra, Ta' Cenc and Hondoq ir-Rummien it makes one wonder whose interests this body has at heart. Mepa members seem to collectively think nothing is sacred in Malta any longer and speculators are encouraged to gamble and buy property in dubious areas because, eventually, they will get their way and the gamble would have little risk.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Yes, I am an interfering foreigner

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday 2nd September, 2007 by Lesley G. Kreupl.

Unfortunately most of the coastal areas of Gozo appear to be privately owned – a grave mistake of the various governments in the past. A mistake that should be rectified as soon as possible. Once permission is granted to build on the Ta’ Cenc plateau, Hondoq, Ramla and even Xlendi point will become concrete jungles.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at the upmarket ghetto squatting on top of the once stunning Fort Chambray, or the high-security prison-like hotel sitting in the middle of a field in San Lawrenz.

Gozo is so small and still so beautiful, please lets protect it for future generations while we can.

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Sacred places of natural beauty (3)

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 2nd September, 2007 by Mr Ray Sultana.

Before the authorities take a decision on Ta' Cenc, Hondoq ir-Rummien and other unsustainable developments, the MEPA board members should take a look at their own Website, in particular the mission statement, which states that they "compare our environment to a treasure, something we place our energies in, to protect, care for and improve".

If MEPA really believes that our environment is a treasure, then it should refuse these absurd proposals for development.

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Sacred places of natural beauty (1)

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 2nd September, 2007 by Mr Paul P. Borg.

We read or hear about plans and intentions to develop this area and that constantly. Plans include a golf course here, an airport there, a yacht marina down here, a tower over there, a set of villas here, more and more villas down there, another golf course up there...

The list is endless and the targeted areas that need development are sadly all over our little islands. And all happen to be in sacred places where Mother Earth has been generous with her natural beauty. Ta' Cenc, Mistra, Xaghra l-Hamra, Xemxija, Hondoq ir-Rummien, Ramla l-Hamra, Bahrija, San Martin, Xewkija...

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