Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Seven NGOs object to Gozo development proposal

From the Times of Malta

Wednesday, 10th June 2009

Seven NGOs object to Gozo development proposal

Seven environmental organisations have expressed concern over a proposed development in a Gozo valley as they fear it could hinder the flow of natural water.

The NGOs said the Malta Environment and Planning Authority was recommending the project for approval even if it was partially in an outside development zone and could set a precedent for similar development.
"The authority's pledge to protect the countryside has once again been put into question," the NGOs said.

BirdLife Malta, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth, Gaia Foundation, Malta Organic Agriculture Movement, Nature Trust (Malta) and the Ramblers' Association issued a joint statement about their concern over the project at Tal-Marga Valley, in Qala.

The proposal to build apartments and underlying garages was unsuitable for a site that was mostly out of the building scheme, they insisted. "Even more seriously, the excavations will take place in the area where underground water from the aquifer flows out into the Tal-Marga Valley," they said.

To makes matters worse, Mepa's case officer report made no mention of a report submitted by the Qala council and drawn up by hydrologist Marco Cremona, they added.

The report states: "It is very likely the excavations will affect the sub-surface flow currently feeding the shallow wells dug in the blue clay lying immediately downstream of the site of the proposed development..." Furthermore, the NGOs said, the Gozo and Comino local plan had designated the valley as an area where the only permitted structures were wind pumps, small stores, reservoirs and other limited facilities deemed necessary for traditional agricultural practices. They were to blend well in the rural landscape.

"One wonders how a block of flats can be legally approved by the Mepa case officer. This will have further implications for other permits for villas being requested nearby, similarly out of the development zone and in the watercourse..."

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