SOS Hondoq News

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Save Ħondoq ir-Rummien

Published on The Times of Malta on Sunday 28th September, 2008 by Leslie Causon.

Now that summer is over, we all hope that this will not be the last in which people will be able to enjoy the beauty, tranquillity and clear blue waters of Ħondoq ir-Rummien bay and its surroundings.

Mepa and the authorities must be aware of the large number of visitors who enjoyed this bay throughout the summer, at times with no other location being available for swimming in Gozo, especially when the wind blows from the west.

Let us hope that common sense will prevail and that the authorities will consider that the vast majority of Qala residents, in a 2002 referendum, voted against a project planned for Ħondoq ir-Rummien, and who still disagree with the destruction of this bay for the benefit of a few.

One expects the long-awaited Mepa reform, which the government has said will be completed by the end of this year, will include an investigation as to why the disused quarry, which is ODZ, was earmarked for development in 2006. Who was behind this change and why? Let us not forget that Mepa had refused an application by Qala council to turn this area into a park for the enjoyment of all.

Let us hope that the talk of an Eco-Gozo becomes a reality and that the disused quarry is indeed turned into a park as originally proposed. It has just been confirmed that the Maltese islands are the most densely populated place in Europe. We do not need more hotels and residential buildings.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sneaking on Hondoq ir-Rummien

Published on The Sunday Times on Sunday 7th September, 2008.

It seems that the government and Mepa are taking a different route to justify Qala Creek Project at Hondoq ir-Rummien by making two recent changes.

The first change was with the stroke of a pen without consultation, explanation or a mention in Parliament that some land around Hondoq Ir-Rummien was changed from Outside Develop Zone (ODZ) to Development Zone.

The second was giving Qala local council €10,000 to run an environment study on Hondoq in general. At first it looked like a small ray of hope to save this bay, but when you look deeper it is nothing more than a way out for this government and Mepa to wash their hands of it; it is a Pontius Pilate trick.

Some people will be hired to do the study in which, probably, the bigger percentage will be in favour of the project, and then pocket taxpayers’ money.

The decision to scrap this project should have been made six years ago when Qala local council held a referendum, which was approved by the government of the day, in which 85 per cent of the residents rejected the project. Qala local council should side with the residents, refuse this money and stick to the referendum result and the wish of the people. This is a bad trend that this government is starting – giving money to councils to fight developers, Mepa and the government itself. It does not make any sense.

The government should listen to the residents of Qala, the people of Gozo, the NGOs and many Maltese from mainland Malta and save the only pristine bay left on these islands. It will be a good start towards making Gozo an ecological island.

The people of Qala are not the demonstrating kind but they will speak their mind in a secret ballot as they did in the referendum. They are different from the foreign people that chose to live among us. The foreign people speak their mind about Hondoq ir-Rummien, and other places in the newspapers in public and at gatherings, and they have every right to do so.

Some of these people have been living in Qala and other villages in Gozo for more than 30 years. They spend their money here, pay taxes, and bring their relatives and friends on holiday. This is the best and the cheapest advertising for these islands.

The majority of the people of Qala and Gozo are hoping Hondoq ir-Rummien will be developed into a national park with some of the EU funds allocated for Gozo.

The Prime Minister must take this into account before any decision is made about Hondoq. This development is going to pollute the village of Qala and the seashore, which will destroy this pristine bay forever, including Comino.

This project is predicted to take five years to complete, but when has anything on these islands ever been finished on time and all this for the benefit of a chosen few. It seems everything in Gozo is on the chopping block – places like Hondoq Ir-Rummien, Ramla Bay, Ta’ Cenc, Dwejra, and many other places that are ODZ. If permits are issued, it will be a crime against the environment.

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Gozo should stop hiding and answer some direct questions when asked about Hondoq ir-Rummien and others. The people want straight answers.

As an ecological island, Gozo must remain peaceful because at this rate the last apartment will be built on the window in Dwejra.

A special Gozo section in one of the Sunday’s newspapers recently was good and interesting, but it was also disappointing as the second best beach in Gozo, Hondoq ir-Rummien, was not mentioned. Hondoq ir-Rummien with its clean pristine water attracts more people than any other beach in Gozo especially when the wind blows from the west. It is never advertised with other beaches, and one wonders why.

Prime Minister, you must side with the majority and the will of the people in the same democratic way your party got elected, and not with a handful of developers for whom euro signs come first, and the environment second.

In less than five years’ time, the report card will be out when the people most concerned about the environment judge you and your party.