Bird conservationists BirdLife Malta yesterday warned against “premature rejoicing” at the potential rejection of the Ta’ Cenc development proposal, claiming developer Victor Borg had written to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority declaring his intention to amalgamate his hotel with the new proposed hotel in a way so as to make them look as one.
“Despite the fact that this particular area at Ta’ Cenc is designated as a bird sanctuary and an Important Bird Area, Mr Borg still thinks he can get away with this unacceptable development proposal by amalgamating it with the extension of the existing hotel,” BirdLife executive director Tolga Temuge said.
“The area he wants to build the new hotel under the pretext of ‘extension’ is still in the bird sanctuary. Should MEPA accept this proposal it would set a very dangerous precedent and open other bird sanctuaries like Buskett to further development.”
Ta’ Cenc, in Sannat, Gozo, is current the subject of a pending infringement procedure opened against Malta by the European Commission in June 2007 due to insufficient Special Protected Area (SPA) designation for migratory and vulnerable wild bird species.
Temuge said no development should even be considered until the infringement procedure is completed and the outcome finalised.
The MEPA case officer’s report on Borg’s proposed development was sent to Borg on 9 November, drawing attention to the fact that the proposed hotel development was adjacent to the protected cliff area, an SPA that is home to a number of internationally important seabird species.
The report states that the development is not acceptable in terms of EU regulations as it exposes the species to adverse impacts related to light and noise pollution.
Writing back to MEPA, Borg said he would soon reveal his plans for Zone 7, an area in his development plans which had been left out in his application to MEPA.
Forming part of the Ta’ Cenc plateau, it was originally planned as a golf course despite the area meriting designation as a Special Area of Conservation (cSAC).
“The changes Borg is suggesting in his letter to the director of MEPA do not address the majority of concerns raised in the case officer’s report. This development proposal is unacceptable in so many ways that should MEPA accept this development, it will not only violate Maltese legislation but also the main conservation Directives of the European Union. Therefore we urge the Maltese government to fully designate the Ta’ Cenc area as a Natura 2000 site which would ensure the full protection which Ta’ Cenc deserves,” Temuge said.