SOS Hondoq News

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hondoq mentioned in Parliament

Published on The Times of Malta on Wednesday 31st October, 2007.

Earlier in the debate, the opposition spokesman for Gozo, Anton Refalo, said the present government had made some serious mistakes in Gozo. Thankfully a serious mistake at Ramla l-Hamra was avoided at the eleventh hour, and he hoped development would not be allowed at Hondoq ir-Rummien.

Dr Refalo said Gozo needed a development plan, and that could go hand-in-hand with a restructuring of the Ministry for Gozo.

Gozo, he said, needed to be represented on the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development. There should be a tourism authority for Gozo and the island should be represented on national boards. In order to exploit the opportunities and advantages of EU membership, the Gozo Regional Council which a Labour government would set up should also have a representative in Brussels.

To view the whole article, go to

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ramblers oppose Labour's golf courses proposal

Published on the Times of Malta on 29th October, 2007.

The unilateral decision made by Opposition Leader Alfred Sant to develop two golf courses in Malta and one in Gozo when in government is very worrying to environmentalists, the Ramblers' Association said yesterday.

The association said it strongly opposed the idea that more swathes of open countryside and scarce water resources be sacrificed in such a wasteful manner.

"More so when recent studies, carried out in connection with the now abandoned Xaghra l-Hamra plans (for a golf course) confirmed that a stand-alone course would not be economically viable."

The association questioned the Labour Party's stand on two particular sites in Gozo: Ta' Cenc and Hondoq ir-Rummien. It reminded the MLP that its (the party's) representatives at the Save Gozo environmental protest, held earlier this year, manifestly opposed development at both sites.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Budget avoids Gozo's real problems - AD

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 28th October, 2007.

"The Prime Minister does not have the courage to announce that development at Ramla l-Hamra must stop once and for all... Nor had he the courage to give the Ta' Cenc area to Gozitans by buying it back and turning it into a national park. Nor has he listened to calls from AD to safeguard the Hondoq ir-Rummien area by turning it into a geological and heritage area as well as a wooded area," Dr Vassallo said.

He added that while the Government claimed to believe in the potential of Gozo's environment, it was unable to create jobs in this sector.

To view the whole article go to

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Death of a turtle

Published on the Times of Malta on Saturday 20th October, 2007 by Adam Cassar.

During a dive at Hondoq Ir-Rummien - dive time being around 40 minutes and maximum depth at around 13 metres - some divers spotted a turtle lying in the sea grass in 10 metres of water near the pipeline, just outside of the swimmer-zone. They stopped to watch as it grazed on the grass and then began to swim and surface for air. Only after it started to swim out towards Comino did they progress with their dive. Upon returning to the surface, the divers were asked not to speak of the turtle until after they arrived back at the dive centre. They did not want anyone to overhear their conversation on what they had seen, as they knew what the turtle's fate would be.

Turtles are a rare sight around the island. I have been diving here for a good 12 years and not once have I come across one. Even other divers - some of which have been diving the islands a lot longer than I have - have never come across one. To be honest, I only know of two sightings, including this one. In recent years the number of turtles has declined sharply. This is one of the reasons we have had jellyfish infestations around the islands, making it impossible for bathers to enjoy a peaceful swim, the turtle being one of the jellyfish's main predators.

To view the whole article go to,

Monday, October 15, 2007

One down, two to go

Published on The Times of Malta on Monday 16th October, 2007 by Charles Sammut.

So now it looks like Mepa has weaseled itself out of an unpopular decision regarding Ramla l-Hamra and revoked the permit for the building of the 23 villas. It is commendable that the insanity has been stopped at least for the time being and the environmental disaster that might have become the ruination of this magnificent venue as we know it has been averted.

And hopefully it will go one step further now and tear down Ulysses Lodge - and do something positive for a change.

While being sensitive to pressure from groups like AD Gozo and others I hope Mepa rules quickly against the proposed projects at Hondoq and Ta' Cenc. Both are environmental nightmares and anybody that is entrusted with preserving the environment should not hesitate to turn down applications for the development of these two sites.

Need anyone say more regarding Hondoq? This enchanting place with its pristine bay and magnificent natural beauty should not be tampered with. Fixing up the old quarry should be a consideration but nothing more. Why this should be a difficult decision to make tells me that Mepa has its own agenda and it only bows down when the pressure from the public is overwhelming.

Hopefully in the near future, Mepa will stop being a menace to the environment and stop being a tool of the developers who are only interested in monetary gains and everything else be damned.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Championing the local plans

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 14th October, 2007 by Alan Deidun.

Some individuals and entities seem to spend the whole time condemning and criticising, without deigning to praise and commend when they should do so. Two cases in point are the recent revocation of the Ramla Ulysses Lodge permit and the opinion paper concerning local limited resources by the Church Environment Commission.

As to the former, the import of the decision took some time to sink in, as the revocation of the permit for a major tourist project is quite unusual. While the revocation was not motivated by environmental concerns but on land ownership issues, anyone who is green at heart should have praised the decision.

A good decision should be given credit, and should be judged on its own merits. To their credit, most environmental NGOs did commend the revocation, but with a major reservation - that other preposterous proposals, as those regarding Hondoq ir-Rummien and Ta' Cenc, are also turned down. It does not take one (or a few) good decisions to appease the thirst for an unhindered natural environment and social justice in this country.

This is part of an article. To view thw whole of it, go to

Another open letter to Labour

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 14th October, 2007 by Alfred Curmi.

I fully agree with the arguments expressed by James A. Tyrrell (The Sunday Times, October 7) about the proposed Hondoq ir-Rummien development in Gozo.

When such situations arise, given that we are now on the verge of extending services through e-government, it may be worth trying some form of a voting system. Here the local councils should be aptly consulted and asked for their services.

This may possibly serve as a pilot project for the launching of some form of e-government local election system which then would be extended to the general election.

The present government should decentralise further, even in this regard.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Squinted vision

Part of an article published on the Times of Malta on Saturday, 13th October, 2007 by Carmel Cacopardo.

When dealing with Gozo (pp. 35-7), the PN document focuses on the investment in projects intended to minimise environmental impacts (sewage purification and waste management). There is fortunately no repetition of the irresponsible ministerial statements made in support for the Hondoq ir-Rummien project. Whether this is a matter of convenience or else one of repentance has still to be seen!

No vision for the future of this country can be considered realistic if it does not take into account environmental issues when conceived.

Vision statements are not realistic when they relegate the environment to an add-on. This is what the PN document does notwithstanding the inclusion of the word "environment" in its title. The PN vision is hence squinted. It needs to be substantially revised and realigned with environmental values. Only then will talking of achieving excellence make sense.

To view whole article, go to

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Road over archaeological site for Hondoq project's trucks

Published on on Wednesday 10th October, 2007 by David Vella.

Developers proposing a mega construction project at the pristine Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay are trying to convince owners of fields nearby to allow them to build a temporary road through their land to be used by construction trucks on their way to the quarries.

If they get their way, the developers will most probably be destroying an archaeological site located in the same fields, environmentalists are arguing. A road for large trucks through the fields will not only be an eyesore, but will also be destroying protected trees, valuable arable land, and traditional rubble walls that adorn the area’s rural scenery. Moreover, the archaeological site in the area, where Neolithic remains were discovered in the 1980s, has never been thoroughly studied. If the site is destroyed, any potential findings will be lost forever.

To avoid ‘Tal-Kuncizzjoni’ hamlet is informed that the developer’s lawyers are contacting the owners of fields neighbouring Hondoq ir-Rummien and asking for their permission to build a temporary road through their land. In compensation, the developers are proposing to pay the owners of the field a daily fee until the project is completed. Through this road, the thousands of construction trucks that will have to travel to the rural area to take away the excavated rocks, and bring in the construction material, will not have to go through the ‘Tal-Kuncizzjoni’ residential area, in Qala.

The developers are in possession of a report indicating that the trucks’ pollution and inconveniences to the residents at ‘Tal-Kuncizzjoni’ will be extensive. The report even warns residents that they will have to install double glazed doors and windows to reduce the noise that the trucks passing outside their homes will cause. Once this report is published, the residents are likely to call on Mepa not to allow the project. Thus an alternative route will be crucial for the issuing of the final development permit.

800,000 metres cubed of rock

A few years ago, the developers filed an application to Mepa to cut through tonnes of rock and create an inland yacht marina at one of the most popular bays in Gozo. This will be then surrounded by a mega construction project including a 170-bed hotel, over 25 self catering villas, 60 self catering units, 200 multi-ownership residences, 731 underground parking spaces, 10 retail units, and five dining facilities. The project is expected to take over seven years to complete.

But to do this project, the developers will have to excavate 800,000 metres cubed of rock, put it on trucks, and deliver it to quarries around Gozo. The only route to Hondoq ir-Rummien is through the ‘Tal-Kuncizzjoni’ hamlet. This is already heavily polluted with trucks driving through it to get to the quarries located at the eastern part of Gozo.

Double glazed windows at developers’ expense

If the Hondoq ir-Rummien project is approved, the number of trucks passing through the hamlet will increase significantly. So much so that an environmental impact assessment of the project, seen by this e-newspaper, calls on the developers to change the apertures of the homes in the area: “The promoters of the project should be encouraged to consider that the residences found at ‘Tal-Kuncizzjoni’ will have double glazing installed to all apertures – this at the promoters’ expense – in order to compensate for the nuisance created during the construction period – and more so the excavation period, when the project is taking shape.”

This is why the developers are trying to convince the owners of fields next to Hondoq ir-Rummien to allow them to build a temporary road bypassing the hamlet. The developers are promising to take photos of the fields before building the road, and restore them to their original state once the project is completed.

But returning the fields to their original state is not the only environmental concern. Years ago, two Dutch archaeologists had studied the area and found numerous Neolithic remains. They even included details of their findings in a report on their field studies in Malta and Gozo. The site was never studied again, and any archaeological remains are likely to be ruined if the proposed road is built.

To view thw whole article with pictures, go to

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Institutionalised vandalism

Published on The Times of Malta on Tuesday 9th October, 2007 by Martin Scicluna.

The paramount environmental challenge facing Malta is the need to control construction development and the way we use and share this tiny land. This is the root cause of our environmental deficit. The impact of excessive land use aggravates all our other environmental problems, as well as undermining our vital tourism industry.

Yet, the regulatory authority, Mepa, to which we should look to exercise control and protection, has become an intrinsic part of the problem. In many instances, Mepa's perverse decisions have added to the overall picture of institutionalised vandalism. How else can one describe its decisions on Ramla l-Hamra, Fort Cambridge in Sliema and Pender Place in St Julians, to name but the most prominent? (I make no reference to Ta' Cenc or Hondoq ir-Rummien, where the structure plan may be about to be flouted, as these are still under consideration.)

At Ramla l-Hamra, Mepa gave a permit in an area of outstanding natural beauty that lies outside the development zone - in the face of the clear undertaking by the Minister for the Environment, following last year's controversial extension of the development boundaries, that no further development outside the permitted zoning would under any circumstances be allowed. Mepa justified this decision on the most specious grounds.

This is part of the article. To view it all go to

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mepa revokes Ramla permit

Published on The Times of Malta on Friday 5th October, 2007 by Mark Micallef.

The authority's lawyer, Ian Stafrace, and Gaia Foundation director Rudolf Ragonesi, a lawyer himself, countered this point saying that the amount of public land being taken up did not really matter in this case. What did was that the authority could not enter into a public deed with the developer as required by the permit conditions.

The developer's lawyers kept insisting that they would be challenging the government's claim of ownership on the contended tract of land and if successful would claim damages, should Mepa revoke their permit without waiting for the outcome.

However, the voting took no time and the nine board members present unanimously agreed to withdraw the permit.

As expected, NGOs at the sitting were in a celebratory mood. The Gaia Foundation and Din L-Art Helwa commended the board for its decision in a joint statement.

Astrid Vella, from Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, said she was delighted with the outcome. "This is a huge step forward for civil society, the people spoke and authorities listened. We now hope that this signals a similar fate for the Ta' Cenc and Hondoq ir-Rummien projects."

To view thw whole article go to,

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

NGOs welcome Ramla permit scrutiny

Published on The Times of Malta on Wednesday, 3rd October, 2007.

Environmental NGOs Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Nature Trust, Friends of the Earth and the Ramblers Association have welcomed Mepa's decision to hold a public hearing to discuss the withdrawal of a permit to build 23 villas with pools overlooking Ramla l-Hamra in Gozo.

"The verdict to stop any project in the area will be considered a mature decision as only in this way can environmental responsibility be shown and development-free zones maintained for future generations to enjoy," said the NGOs.

"Revocation of the Ulysses Lodge permit will confirm that an error has indeed been made and that Mepa has had the courage to act accordingly as required by law.

"It is hoped that this decision means that other permits for development outside the development zone, like Hondoq ir-Rummien and Ta' Cenc, will be subjected to the same scrutiny as this one, in the interest of Malta's environment, heritage, tourism and residents' rights," they said.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Response to Lino Camilleri's comments.

Published on

Re. Lino Camilleri's comments raised against SOS Hondoq, on Fri. 28 September, 2007, appearing in AD Ghawdex Digest No.945.

Moviment Harsien Hondoq policy was, is, and will be unaltered. We strive to save Hondoq ir-Rummien in it's natural state as laid down by nature. We hail all parties who adopt our policy and do our best to enlighten those parties who do not agree with us or are still in a state of perplexity.

Alas! Lino Camilleri, last Wednasday, did not hear me speaking against any developement at Hondoq ir-Rummien, on Radio Malta, with Sylvana Debono, MEPA's p.r.o., in Lilian Maistre's programm at 9 a.m.

He missed, also, my last Friday's interview of 30 min. He should be better informed.

It is my committee's duty and mine to remain faithful to our members and our conpatriots who come from all quarters.

Paul Buttigieg.
Moviment Harsien Hondoq

Hondoq and the lejber

Published on

It is so obvious now that the SOS Hondoq are NOT Hondoq Lovers BUT MLP's Lovers and PUPPETS. After more than a week from Alfred Sant's declared 2nd U-turn that he wants the marina in Hondoq, the SOS HONDOQ are completely SILENT.But why certain Gozitans are so thick!?Did you not listen to the advice of Alternattiva Demokratika who is the only consistent party in our Republic?

Lino Camilleri