News | Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bookmark and Share

NGOs deplore Hondoq’s EIA hearing

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar and the Ramblers’ Association yesterday deplored MEPA’s handling of the public consultation for the Environment Impact Assessment of the proposed hotel, villas, and yacht marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien, claiming the authority was unprepared for the meeting.
The NGOs said part of the hall at the Qala school had been partitioned off, reducing the space available, with over half the seats occupied by the pro-development lobby. FAA and the Ramblers said it had to be Paul Buttigieg of Moviment Harsien Hondoq to demand that the partitions be removed.
The NGOs also complained that MEPA chairman Austin Walker did not allow the English language to be used during the hearing, despite the number of foreign residents attending the meeting.
“Foreign residents are the best source of investment for Gozo, investing their savings with no intention of speculative profit, looking after their surroundings and contributing generously to Gozitan voluntary societies,” the groups said in a statement. “Their presence creates the much sought-after multiplier effect in tourism, constantly attracting family and friends to Gozo. The deplorable conduct at Thursday’s session is guaranteed to put off the very source of investment that the constituted bodies were clamouring for.”
FAA and Ramblers said the “job-creation carrot” was being used to gain a permit for hotel outside development zones (ODZ), and expressed scepticism over this promise. “The reality is that many of these hotels are using foreign, low-wage staff, rather than employing Gozitans. While many other hotels eventually converted their ODZ sites into real estate, this project proposes a strong speculative element from the outset, therefore the only guaranteed Gozitan employment is in short-term construction jobs, and even this is in doubt, given the number of foreign workers employed in the construction industry.”
The NGOs echoed MEPA’s Natural Heritage Advisory Committee in condemning the EIA for its obvious bias in favour of the project. “The studies make no reference to some of Malta’s most recent studies on water quality and EU Directives that Malta is legally bound to observe, if fines are to be avoided.”
They said a dangerous precedent is also being set by the building of a ‘temporary’ road for developers’ trucks to drive through green fields and archaeology sites.
“The environment NGOs maintain that a national park at Hondoq, along with heritage trails, an amphitheatre, organic farming, nature study facilities and improved beach facilities, would not only create local jobs but would do far more to attract tourists to Gozo than further over-development. A project which MEPA has asserted will cause the obliteration of protected marine life, has no place on Eco-Gozo especially in the International Year of Biodiversity.”

Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download MaltaToday Sunday issue front page in pdf file format

Download the MaltaToday newspaper advertising rates in PDF format

Download the Gourmet Today advertising rates in PDF format


Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email