SOS Hondoq News

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eco-Ducks for the Eco-island of Gozo

Published on by James A. Tyrrell.

Having just returned from a two week holiday on Gozo I have found that the Eco-island concept is alive and well in at least one part of the island. Whilst visiting friends in Qala they told me about the major problem they had in their back garden with snails and slugs.

Now the people in question could have gone down the well trodden path of using pesticides or some such poison to bring the problem under control. However, being people after my own heart who care a lot for the environment they came up with an Eco-island solution. They hired a pair of ducks for a month.

Nothing gets rid of snails like a pair of ducks and the only by-product is fertiliser for the garden, although a certain amount of that fertiliser found it's way onto the patio as the ducks tend to go where the snails go!

Can I therefore suggest that the Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono, takes the bull by the horns, or duck by the wings, with regard to this Eco-island initiative and immediately organises annual duck hiring fairs? I've even found the perfect location for the breeding of these ducks. We could cut down all that bamboo in the old quarry at Hondoq and revert it back to the way it was in 1951 and form a large duck pond.

So come on Minister let's get this Eco-island thing off the ground and get those snails under control in an environmentally friendly way.

To view the whole article plus photo, go to

Monday, November 10, 2008

AD’s reactions to the budget measures affecting Gozitans

Published on on Sunday 9th November, 2008.

At a Press Conference held in Gozo, Arnold Cassola, Chairperson of Alternattiva Demokratika, said that, once again the measures planned for Gozo lacked precise time frames to indicate the start and expected completion dates of the projected reforms. Government's declared intention to embark on a reform of the public transport service as a first priority is praiseworthy. However, it is not known when this exercise is due to be finalised nor has any reference been made to the Gozo Channel monopoly which is supposed to end by this year.

Mr Victor Galea, AD spokesperson for Gozo, commended the Government on its commitment to develop Gozo's economic activities based on the principle of sustainability and specifically aimed at substantially improving the tourist product. Mr Galea also praised Government's plans to consolidate the fishing and agricultural sector and the promotion of organic farming. "However, against this overall positive background, Government needs to explain why it has not yet put an end to all the speculation about the Ta' Cenc and Ramla l-Hamra projects by declaring its firm and unequivocal rejection of both projects which run counter to any sound agricultural policy. Furthermore, Government has failed to declare its position on the proposed marina and tourist village projects at Hondoq ir-Rummien which surely prejudice any attempt to promote sustainable tourism. Moreover, the new water and electricity bills are going to affect the few manufacture industries left in Gozo as well as the tourist industry."

With reference to Gozo's natural resources, Mr Galea reiterated that "The Government should do all that is possible to distribute second class water, produced from the sewage treatment plant, to farmers, instead of wasting it by throwing it into the sea." Mr Galea also referred to the fact that, despite the expenditure of over 6 million euro on Capital Projects, the Ministry did not manage to find the necessary funds to complete the two important roads from Dwejra to San Lawrenz and the main road from the Heliport to Rabat. Mr Galea augured that Government will not only keep its word to finalise these road projects but also ensure that all the funds allocated are spent with due diligence and will not repeat situations where projects are stopped soon after inception due to lack of funds, as happened in the case of the Mgarr Terminal.

The Green Party has also noted that, while Government recognises the need for the creation of new jobs in Gozo, it has failed to announce any concrete measures. All that was mentioned for 2009 was a joint action plan between the Ministry for Gozo and Malta Enterprise.

Prof. Arnold Cassola stressed that the only way to create jobs in Gozo is by putting an end, once and for all, to the existing culture of clientelism and by giving due encouragement and assistance to all those, irrespective of their political leanings, who are ready to help in the sustainable development of existing jobs and in the creation of new ones.

Arnold Cassola commented on the effects of the petrol and diesel price hikes and explained how these "will adversely affect Gozitan Workers twicefold." "Owing to the inefficient public transport service in Malta and Gozo, workers have no alternative but to use their own cars to go to work in Malta at considerable expense."

Prof. Cassola concluded by strongly recommending that the frequency of the public transport service from Cirkewwa to the University should, at least, be doubled and that the operating hours should be better adjusted. These measures would go a long way in helping to reduce the hassle and stress currently being faced by the over 900 Gozitan students commuting to Malta.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Heritage should get its share - FAA

Published on the Times of Malta on Monday 3rd November, 2008.

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) called for funding in today's budget for national heritage restoration and "scrupulous governance" of available EU funds.

In a statement issued yesterday, FAA also called for "sufficient funds" to be allocated to Mepa's Environment Protection Directorate and MRA, allowing them to operate effectively and be in a position to issue national policies on water, energy, transport and tourism, adding that "realistic" funding is also required for the Eco-Island project to get started.

The heritage NGO said that it considers this year's budget a "crucial one" on both the heritage as well as the environment front.

FAA also called on the government to activate the Heritage Trust, intended to provide grants for the restoration of listed buildings.

Given that this trust was also envisaged for the acquisition of buildings or land, FAA maintained that the government should immediately purchase, at non-development rates, project sites at Ramla l-Ħamra and Ħondoq ir-Rummien, and make them available for projects of "public benefit".

Malta's obligations to start producing alternative energy can no longer be postponed, it said, adding that it is calling for "realistic incentives" to encourage widespread use of alternative energy in the domestic, commercial, agriculture and industrial sectors.

The NGO also said that initiatives are also required to assist in the implementation of energy efficiency measures in buildings such as double-glazing and insulation, as well as in the construction of rainwater cisterns for all buildings. Enforcement of these regulations, the FAA insisted, should be coupled with the establishment of a 10 per cent renewable energy requirement for all major projects.

Regarding the illegal extraction of water, the FAA said that, while the borehole registration exercise is a step in the right direction, it has to be followed up by direct and immediate action, such as the metering of registered boreholes.

Investment is urgently required, it added, to replace groundwater use by making treated sewage effluent and gathered rainwater available to agriculture and industry.

The subsidy on electricity consumed by Water Services Corporation should be removed, FAA maintained, while a nation-wide educational campaign on energy and water savings in all sectors would help to limit consumption.