Monday, June 28, 2010
The language of EIA hearings
While Mepa apologises for any inconvenience caused by this situation, it wishes to point out that the law regulating EIAs explicitly states that an EIA public hearing meeting should be held in the Maltese language. The fact that members of the public present for the EIA meeting objected to the use of the English language constrained the Mepa official chairing the meeting to abide by the law and effectively only allow the Maltese language, throughout the entire meeting, to be used by those present.
The Authority would also like to put on record that apart from the public meeting held in Qala, the public also had the opportunity, between 20 April and 11 June, to submit, in writing, any comments they wished to make pertaining to the EIA, in either English or Maltese. All representations received by Mepa were acknowledged and not one was ignored.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Mepa must apologise
I refer to the Mepa public hearing on the Qala Creek Project at Hondoq ir-Rummien that was held on Thursday 27 May, which many people from different countries in Europe, mostly English, attended. They were there to represent the 300 or so people that live in Qala village.
These people were never given a chance to know what was going on because the meeting was held in Maltese, so most of them walked out of the meeting feeling frustrated and let down. There was nobody to blame for this except Mepa, because it took the advice of the handful of people that supported the project. Some of the supporters the developers brought in had never been to Qala before but were asked to back the project at the hearing. Mepa conducted this hearing using the law of the jungle. Mepa must apologize to these people, not only to the ones that live in Qala but also to the rest of the people from other countries that live on these islands. These people that live in Qala are part of the community so they have rights. They chose to live in Qala because they like Gozo and prefer Hondoq ir-Rummien to many other beautiful places in Europe.
They spend their money in Qala and Gozo, buy properties, pay taxes, they bring their friends for holidays; they are an attraction for tourists to Gozo, and an asset to the community. They must not be ignored, and the way they were treated at the hearing made me ashamed of being Gozitan. After all these people are also Europeans and not foreigners.
A couple of reasons come to mind. Firstly, his father has been trying unsuccessfully to develop his belvedere property for years now but the application was always turned down. This finally became possible when the Local Plan changed and unaccountably declared that two houses were a ‘hamlet’, a designation refused to much larger communities! Because of this, the development application was granted. I’m sure Ray was really grateful, and what better way to show his appreciation than to support the government stance on the Hondoq project. He also stated that the building had nothing to do with him but belonged to his brothers and parents and he had no share in it. Obviously, he must be an outcast within his own family in the same way that he is an outcast with the people of his constituency, although, according to his father, the buildings and land were an investment for all his family.
Secondly, we know that Dr Xerri is not accepted as a PN person due to the court case years ago, which resulted in his suspension from the party. Since he knows that the PN are backing the Hondoq project, is it possible that he is trying to get back into their good books and therefore stand a better chance of being accepted back into the party by taking their side in the argument?
Dr Xerri stated at the public consultation that one of the reasons he was supporting the development was because it would be creating jobs for Gozo. He has obviously forgotten the promises made for the township of deluxe apartments built within the fortifications of Fort Chambray, the Mgarr Hotel and the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz, all of which promised lots of jobs for the local people and failed miserably to fulfil those promises.
I found it funny when he stated at the consultation that, according to his diary last year, he went to Hondoq exactly 16 times. I mean how many people record every time they go to Hondoq in their diary? Makes you wonder how many other interesting little snippets he has in there – toenail cutting sessions, toilet visits etc. But then I suppose he has a lot of time on his hands since he has a job doing nothing at the Gozo University at Xewkija.
His own constituents do not trust Dr Raymond C. Xerri, he has been thrown out of the PN, does not enjoy good working relations with his co-workers at the university and is not trusted in the council of which he is a member. It would appear that Dr Xerri’s credibility is at an all time low and this about turn is his attempt at trying to climb the greasy pole once again.
SOS Hondoq membership not a prerequisite for opposing the project
Can Dr Xerri explain this discrepancy between his stand on the issue in September 2009 and his ‘kutrumbajsa’ (U-turn) at the 12 May meeting in which he came out in favour of the project? I am ready to retract what I said if Dr Xerri can provide irrefutable proof – for example, prior to the 12 May meeting, did he write anything to refute the September 2009 motion? Any letter or article to support the project? Everybody knows his penchant for writing, so why the long silence between September 2009 and May 2010? But please, let us not hear this excuse that has become the norm … I didn’t know... I was in the dark even though I attended the meeting... I signed documents but I didn’t read them beforehand...
Regarding the Belvedere project – well, as the Maltese saying goes: (blood is thicker than water!) Still, you didn’t deny its controversy which doesn’t put Mepa in a good light which, in turn, must have shone upon you on 12 May, as it did upon St Paul on his road to Damascus, and Mepa’s doors opened and you heard its celestial voice proclaim “Dr Xerri, why do you persecute me”?
And, by the way, being a member of SOS Hondoq was never a prerequisite for opposing the project.
Remember, Dr Xerri, and this goes for all politicians, the great politician is the one who is able to put aside his / her own interests for the sake of the interests of those who had elected him / her.
So please provide the proof that you were in favour of the project prior to 12 May and I will be more than happy to retract what I have said.
Preċedent b’jott marina f’Ħondoq – il-kandidat tal-PN, Alan Deidun
Pubblikata fuq l-Orizzont nhar s-Sibt 19 ta' Gunju, 2010.
F’rapport li Alan Deidun ħej ja għall-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qa la b’risposta għar-rapport im ħejji fuq il-proġett ta’ Ħondoq ir-Rummien dwar l-eko loġija marittima u l-impatt fuq il-kwalità tal-ilma baħar, enfasizza li jott marina f’Ħon doq ir-Rummien toħloq pre ċe dent.
Fir-rapport tiegħu, il-bijolo gu Alan Deidun, qal li l-preċedent li nħoloq fil-propos ta ta’ jott marina f’Ħondoq ir-Rum mien hu fuq żewġ fron ti.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Hondoq ir-Rummien: Food for the Dragon
In our times dragons are relegated to the realms of legends. But in the days of St George and in the early times of the Church everybody knew that ‘dragons’ were hidden references to oppressive, life-suffocating regimes. The water source and the maidens offered to the dragon in Lydda symbolise life and the sustainable future of the community.
Today, bigger parts of the Gozitan countryside are offered to an insatiable dragon appearing in the greed of economic and construction lobbies behind so many projects that are presented as if they were to introduce a bonanza for Gozo.
As such, one may think that Hondoq is another development like many others we have had in the last 50 years. But in many ways it stands for so many ill-conceived new developments that are threatening our future and is undoubtedly a clear signal that the dragon will want more and forever more.
Analysing this project one cannot overlook the fact that the plans were designed at a time when there was still a high artificial demand for the jet set. Portomaso was in some ways innovative for Malta and was perhaps the right project at the right time. Hondoq is not. It is repeating a concept that is doomed to fail because it is a repetition of the unsuccessful Chambray that is less than two kilometres away.
MEPA is giving more than ever before the impression of a rubber-stamping machinery for further developments, even though empty unsold property is abundant in Gozo. Given the size of Gozo, developments could easily overshadow or even eliminate each other. For instance, a runway between Ghajnsielem and Xewkija could seal the fate of Chambray because this happens to be in the flight path of the possible runway. The proposed Hondoq development rules out the possible, though remote, causeway between Malta and Gozo. No one from the privileged Hondoq residents would like a highway to end or start at his doorstep.
Once the Hondoq project is over, the obvious solution for the dragon would be to create another project, to have another bite at another part of the Gozitan countryside. Our politicians will not stop the onslaught. At best they are only keen on appeasing the dragon and in return hoping that it continues to fill their respective party coffers.
I am afraid this time that I cannot pin my hopes upon St George’s second coming.
Hondoq – the new symbol
If architect Mr Bencini, or Vince Farrugia, or anyone in favour of the project want to convert me to their cause, then there are questions that need to be answered and which, as far as I know, haven’t been. I will list them in a random order and hope I get an answer:
1) Why do you think a new hotel will succeed where others are failing?
2) Why was Hondoq not listed on Mepa’s list of possible yacht marina sights in its survey, and now it has become the chosen site?
3) Why was the area concerned originally ODZ and then listed as open to development when Mr Bajada bought the land in question? Why did he get special treatment?
4) What guarantee can there be that the project won’t set a precedent and open up adjacent land to speculation?
5) What guarantee that parts of the coast won’t become ‘residents only’, like what happened at the Mellieha hotel and ta’ Cenc?
6) What guarantee that the bay won’t become polluted?
7) Why does Mr Bencini want to hide the facts regarding the numbers that use Hondoq?
8) Why a yacht marina at Hondoq? If it is necessary, why not extend the existing one at Mgarr?
9) Are there any politicians or their children involved in the project?
10) If the coast belongs to the public, then who gives you the right to demolish part of the shore to create an opening to the creek?
I was swimming at Hondoq today in the late afternoon (7 June, the Sette Giugno, long weekend). The beach had quite a few people, mostly Maltese and foreigners. I counted over 40 cars; God knows how many more had already been there and left. Keep in mind that the swimming season has barely started. Once school is over, and especially in the month of August, bathers will be packed like sardines in a tin! Too crowded for my liking, which is why I prefer early morning! This project will reduce the area where people can relax since part of the jetty will be demolished for the ‘mouth’ to the yacht marina! But, the developers would hoodwink the public by having a picture of Hondoq published in The Times with a handful of cars!
In the Independent of 8 June, Francesca Vella in her article tells how after Hondoq it will be Ta’ Cenc’s turn. Hondoq has become the symbolic battleground – if the project succeeds then it will be death knell for all ‘green areas’ in Gozo; it will automatically kill the concept of an Eco-Gozo and it will turn Mepa even more into a Frankenstein monster that can make and bend laws at will for VIP clients at the expense of the public in general.
Lastly, I would like to remind the Qala local council that in the referendum on Hondoq 85 per cent voted against both yacht marina and housing project and we should not okay the latter if the marina is scratched! Let’s stick to our guns – it was planned as a natural park area and that’s what an Eco-Gozo needs!
Never a member of the Save Hondoq Movement
Firstly, the letter states: “… who originally supported Save Hondoq Movement...”I was never a member of or supported the Save Hondoq Movement.
Secondly, Mr Falzon states, “… since he has his own controversial building project on Qala’s Belvedere...” To date, the building belongs to my brothers and parents, and I have no share in the building or land.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Petizzjoni kontra l-proġett tal-Ħondoq
F’mistoqsija parlamentari mill-Onor. Owen Bonnici lill-Prim Ministru Gonzi, dwar il-po żizzjoni tal-Gvern fuq il-pro ġett ta’ Ħondoq ir-Rummien, f’Għawdex, il-PM qal li l-MEPA hi responsabbli mid-deċiżjoni jekk għandux isir dan il-proġett. Gonzi qal li l-Gvern m’għan dux x’jaqsam mad-de ċiż joni li se tieħu l-MEPA. Sostna li l-Gvern ma jindaħalx fl-applikazz jonijiet li tirċievi l-MEPA dwar proġetti ta’ żvilupp, u lanqas ma jindaħal fid-deċiżjonijiet li jittieħdu mill-membri tal-bord tal-MEPA.
Wara l-laqgħa ta’ ftit jiem ilu mal-komunità Għawdxija dwar l-istess proġett, bdiet tinfirex pe tizzjoni madwar Malta u Għawdex biex min hu kontra dan l-iż vilupp jiffirma. Din il-petizz jo ni qiegħda ddur bl-imejl fejn min jirċiviha jikteb ismu u jgħad diha lil ħaddieħor biex kul ħadd isemma’ leħnu kontra l-proġett. S’issa f’din il-petizzjoni vvotaw mijiet ta’ persuni li ma jaqblux, li ka ġun tiegħu se tintilef aktar mis-sbuħija naturali fil-bajjiet tagħna.