SOS Hondoq News

Friday, October 04, 2013

Hondoq Local Plan should be changed back to original status

Published on on 17th August 2013.

Moviment Harsien Hondoq together with Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Ramblers Association, NatureTrust, FOE Malta and Din l-Art Helwa are urging MEPA to revise the Local plan back to what it was before the 2006 local plans and refuse permit for the development of Hondoq.
In a letter to the Authority Moviment Harsien Hondoq said, the area of Hondoq was re-designated for tourism and marine related uses in 2006, without public consultation. MEPA’s Audit Office admitted that this lack of consultation should not have happened, considering the ‘substantial’ nature of the changes.
Previously, the policy agreed upon by MEPA and the Qala Local Council, stated that: “The preferred use is to reclaim the area either for agricultural use or afforestation.”
The NGO pointed out that “had the due consultation process been followed, it’s highly unlikely such changes would have been accepted.”
It also noted that MEPA’s Environment Protection Directorate & Natural Heritage Panel “have recommended the project’s refusal, as have Transport Malta & the Church Commission. Also the NGO’s, 85% of Qala residents, Qala’s Local Council and over 4400 petitioners are against it.
“The area also lies between two proposed Areas of Ecological Importance and is classified as an Area of High Landscape Sensitivity (AHLS), and a Category A Valley.”
The group said that “the Planning Authority talks of the importance of the high scenic value of Gozo’s coastline and valleys, and how these landscapes should be protected and enhanced for both Gozo’s quality of life and its economy.
“As an ODZ, Hondoq should have been protected by the policy which states that there is ‘a blanket prohibition of any form of urbanisation outside areas specifically designated for urban uses.’ (There are some exceptions, however most of these are ruled out by another policy regulating AHLS’s, which states: ‘Apart from the normal restrictions on development in rural areas, there shall be a strong presumption against the creation of new built structures.’)”
The NGO said that as a Category A Valley, there should normally be ‘no new physical development’ on its sides. The valley may have seen quarrying activity, “but is a valley nonetheless, and should undergo rehabilitation as per Rural Conservation Policy.”
“Also, conservation guidelines for the adjacent Areas of Ecological Importance range from ‘no residential, industrial or tourism development’ to ‘no physical development’ whatsoever. It is incongruous that a high density residential village should be allowed between two such areas,” the Movement said.
Moviment Harsien Hondoq has said to MEPA that it requests:
1. The MEPA Board accept the recommendation of their Environment Protection Directorate, and refuse to grant a permit for the development of Hondoq as a real estate/marina complex.
2. Hondoq is returned to its previous ODZ status as per the Local Plan agreed between Mepa and Qala Local Council.
3. Hondoq is designated as a National Park for everyone to enjoy for generations to come.
For more information on the petition please see the website.