Sunday, 30 May 2010

Proposed Qala project designed to serve private interests - NGOs

Proposed Qala project designed to serve private interests - NGOs

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar and the Ramblers’ Association have deplored the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s handling of the public consultation on the Environment Impact Assessment of the proposed hotel, villas, apartments, and yacht marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien.

They said in a statement that In view of the fact that a sizeable crowd was expected, the Qala school hall was chosen as a large enough venue.

“Why then, was part of the hall partitioned off, reducing the space available?

“By the time the public arrived, over half the seats were already occupied by the pro-development lobby, which meant that some members of the public were told they could not be accommodated. Why did it have to be Paul Buttigieg of Moviment Harsien Hondoq to demand that the partitions be removed, and not the Chairman of the MEPA session,” they asked.

The organisations asked why did MEPA’s chairman uphold the development lobby’s demand that not a word was to be said in English, one of Malta’s official languages, even though a good number of residents were foreigners.

The NGOs argued that while dangling the job-creation carrot to gain permits to build hotels in outside development zones (ODZ) was a common device, the reality was that many of these hotels were using foreign, low-wage staff, rather than Gozitans.

The NGOs echoed MEPA’s Natural Heritage Advisory Committee in condemning the EIA for its obvious bias in favour of the project.

A dangerous precedent was also being set by the building of a ‘temporary’ road for developers’ trucks to motor through green fields and potential archaeology sites, a state of affairs never permitted before.

Similarly dangerous was the probability of anti-fouling and other hazardous chemicals leaching into a yacht marina adjacent to a popular swimming beach.

The Traffic Impact Statement, they said, did not reflect the reality of Qala’s narrow village roads, already overwhelmed by heavy vehicles.

The NGOs maintained 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.

But the proposed project was designed to serve the private interests of a few people.

“The EIA tries to give the impression that the public is being catered for, while in reality this project will ride roughshod over the wishes and well-being of the Qala residents and the vast majority of the residents of Malta and Gozo,” they said.


Romano Cassar(3 hours, 13 minutes ago)
@ Salvu Felice Pace. Profit is OK, so long as it is a fair profit, and is not obtained to the detriment of others. These so-called developers have obtained land at dirt-cheap ODZ prices and want to build a residential complex on this ODZ land. Let them build on land scheduled for development if they want to make a fair profit. Then your comment might have made some sense. In the current situation, it is totally illogical.

Victor Borg
(10 hours, 25 minutes ago)
MEPA is of course an instrument of the government. But what the government is doing is hiding behind MEPA under the pretense that it is an independent authority.

The truth is this: it's the government that wants this project, and it will simply favour a few well-connected people.

I did a long analytical article about these issues in Gozo. The article was published in Destinations of the World News ( a Dubai-based international tourism-trade magazine that is ready by 30,000 international movers and shakers in the tourism industry. In the article I analysed these projects as well as eco-Gozo, which is probably the greatest joke of our time in Gozo.

Read the article here:

Read it and you will notice another thing - no Maltese newspaper ever publish articles of this type - doesn't that strike you are odd?

Continue fighting to protect our islands from the vultures - these vultures are in government and they are sitting the wolves.

Victor Borg

Joe Fenech
(10 hours, 54 minutes ago)
"Proposed Qala project designed to serve private interests - NGOs"

Isn't this VERY OBVIOUS!!!

Who would it benefit if not?

Create jobs for the locals? RUBBISH!!!! According to EU law you can't discriminate between locals and other EU nationals.

Stop taking the people for a ride!

Edward Camilleri
(12 hours, 6 minutes ago)
if we need 5 star hotels with marinas for tourists, then the Mgarr hotel should have been sustainable. Instead it was demolished to be replaced by appartments. Try to swim near the marina of Mgarr and see how clean it is. Before the marina the water used to be one of the cleanest.

Joe Morana
(10 hours, 58 minutes ago)
I have no doubts that this proposed project will pass through, just like the proposed il-Bukkett (xewk) project will despite the Government rhetoric re Eco -Gozo and all other MEPA and government psuedo pro environment bull.. ........t !!!.
Dak li ma rnexxilhux jkisser il- barrani se jeqirduh l-imprendituri u awtoritajiet Maltin.
Jekk hemm htiega ta' yacht marina ghax ma jkompliex jigi zivluppat il- port tal-Mgarr??? Ghajb!!!!.

(12 hours, 13 minutes ago)
@ Salvu Felice Pace.
Everyone knows your political affiliations, so your outing comes to me as no surprise........ I wonder though, whether you would have been so much in favour of such project should it have been proposed to take place further down the road where you live. Oh, I forgot. If Gonzi says yes you would have silently bowed your head too, no matter what!
How sadly pathetic.

Chris Finch
(12 hours, 17 minutes ago)
So the developers want to attract foreigners to this scheme, with their yachts and riches. Well any foreigners looking at investing in a property or yacht berth need only look at how the developers in this meeting have treated those foreigners who have already invested money in Gozo. What makes you think that once they have your money, they will treat you any better?
You will soon find another construction in front of your nice view if the developers think they can get more money.

Bernard Storace
(12 hours, 19 minutes ago)
As each project approaches and more often than not is passed with the blessing of MEPA and other interested parties in spite of positive opposition, I am of the opinion that the 'planning' part of MEPA should be taken away. They are as arrogant as the person in charge of the Authority. They have learnt by example, to ride roughshod over the majority of the peoples' wishes and comon sense.
If it is jobs they want to create in the hospitality business then they should start by replacing all the foreign blood currently employed in most of the hotels large and small; and elsewhere too.
Yes, it is true that the whole area, especially the valley, needs an uplift and a major cleanup but please not to the detriment of the entire area and the pleasure of countless hundreds who flock there in the summer months for their pleasure.
W Spencer(10 hours, 39 minutes ago)
Why is " foreign blood " employed in the hospitality industry ?

Could it be because, as EU citizens the foreigners are entitled to work anywhere in the EU ( Malta & Gozo included), just like Maltese / Gozitan citizens are entitled to, and do, work in other EU Countries ?

Could it be because, Maltese / Gozitans find it more financially beneficial to remain on Benefits with a little part time job on the side ??

Could it be because, unlike hospitality employees in other Countries, the Maltese / Gozitans, feel it is beneath them to serve / wait on foreigners ?.

Foreigners seem to manage paying the rent, running a car, feeding their Family, with an occasional night out, on the wages paid to them.

J Brincat(13 hours, 50 minutes ago)
Whist I appreciate the resistance put on by the NGOs, at the end of the day if the Government wants Hondoq ir-Rummien to be 'developped' then developped it would be. The government, through MEPA, always gets its way!
Isabelle Calleja(15 hours, 43 minutes ago)
This policy signals a government of the few, for the few, to the detriment of the many!!!!!
victor pulis(21 hours, 46 minutes ago)
'But the proposed project was designed to serve the private interests of a few people'

and to add insult to injury the powers that be expect the general public also known as the hoi polloi to thank them for the favour in return. What really hurts is the way these things are being done in a bare faced fashion and the environmental rapists aren't even trying to disguise their actions under subtlety at least.

Joseph Camilleri
(23 hours, 28 minutes ago)
What the Maltese Islands need is the preservation and protection of the very few natural beauty spots that still remain, both from turism poin of view and the maltese/gozitans who actually own this respect. The environment, land and sea alike, just cannot be ruined any more, enough is enough. The general public is a looser in such project games, with little or nothing to make good for the loss the cost of which is however pocketed by a few stake holders.

Good, so we go abroad to delight ourselves with the beauty of nature elsewhere, and expect turists to come over to enjoy ours - a sea that's getting filty, hotels and empty apartments, spoilt overtaken beaches, cranes and dust everywhere, a horizon that's getting unsightly, you name it.
W Spencer(11 hours, 48 minutes ago)
Absolutely correct, but this is Malta / Gozo, it will no doubt be approved.

" Developers Rule " okay !!

Salvu Felice Pace(1 day ago)
Without entering into the rights or wrongs of the Qala project I find the NGOs main statement laughable. Do they think that investors, foreigners or local, invest their money and employ thousands of workers because they are philantropists? Of course their investment serves their private interest, it's called profit. But is that a dirty word?

victor pulis
(12 hours ago)
There are ways and ways to make a profit. Enough said.

lesley kreupl
(1 day ago)
The whole project stinks of corruption with a capital C. After the demolition of the Mgarr Hotel Austin Walker promised that, that was the last hotel to be re-zoned into apartments. What is going to happen in a few years time to the project hotel when it goes bankrupt – if God forbid – it is built in the first place? More empty apartments to join the thousands already available?

It really is time for all parties involved to sit down together and discuss what is best for Gozo, and not for their own pockets. An awful lot of money has already been wasted on various things (?), but it is not too late to reach an amicable agreement.
Gozo has so much to offer, don't destroy it.

joe falzon
(1 day, 2 hours ago)
they could have left up the partition, they could have filled the hall with project supporters ---- no one is going to believe the nature-rapists! Why? The people of Qala have already spoken in a referendum with an absolute, overwhelming majority. The odd one out that played Judas and is now supporting the project has material interests at heart that need MEPA's blessing.

Gaby Micallef Trigona
(1 day, 2 hours ago)
NGOs keep up your good work!!!!

lesley kreupl
(1 day, 2 hours ago)
It must have been very embarrassing for the NGO's attending the meeting to witness how their fellow Maltese behaved, especially those acting in their official capacities.
One hopes that such unruly behaviour doesn't reach the foreign press and that the representatives of the German company about to invest here don't read the local papers.

L. Causon
(1 day, 2 hours ago)
MEPA and the Government alike should wake up to reality and accept that no amount of talk and lobbying will convince the Maltese and Gozitans alike that this project is not being proposed only for the benefit of the few. Even when the Gozo Local Plan was so conveniently changed in 2006, it struggles to try and find a justification to propose a mega development such as the one being put forward. This same plan talks about the area around Hondoq as being 'sensitive from an envoirnmental and landscape point of view'. It goes on to add that 'any interventions should compliment its sensitivity'. When it talks about the famous quarry area it makes it clear that any development should be of 'low density'. Surely the mega development being proposed with a 5 star hotel and over 300 flats does not fall within this brief. The Qala council has proposed an alternative plan to regenerate this area. This area is ODZ and should be respected as such.

charlie mizzi
(9 hours, 59 minutes ago)


Bahrija valley development takes toll on indigenous freshwater crab

From TMIS of 30th May 2010.

Bahrija valley development takes toll on
indigenous freshwater crab
by Annaliza Borg

The freshwater crab, which lives in just six places in the Maltese islands, has been protected since 1993 and was listed in at least two legal notices in 2003 and 2006, giving it added protection.

Yet the controversial development in Bahrija valley in recent months, rendered more contentious still because it was undertaken by then Nationalist Party president Victor Scerri, has resulted in crab burrows being crushed under concrete.

The indigenous species, however, was not protected from the development, according to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority in reply to questions put by this newspaper, because the development permit in question had been approved prior to the coming into force of Legal Notice 311 of 2006, which transposed the EU’s Habitats Directive into Maltese legislation.

The Ramblers Association of Malta has filed a judicial protest against Mepa for allowing the development to take place. This was met with no action and the association has now opened a court case, asking Mepa to revert matters to the rule of law. Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon is presiding over the case.

The species, known as qabru in Maltese or by its scientific name potamon fluviatile lanfrancoi, is known to have existed for centuries and is endemic to Malta. Today it survives in only one place in Gozo and five places in Malta.

Moreover, the number of individual specimens has been greatly reduced in these areas, sometimes to the point of extinction, as a result of pressure from agriculture – including the use of pesticides – and the over-extraction of water, urbanisation, free access and indiscriminate collecting.

The apparent redirection of the water flow resulting from the development, which Nature Trust Malta has reported to Mepa, has resulted in an extreme drought in an area that contains numerous crab burrows. One of the crab burrows existed in what is now a completely dry area, with the closest water some four metres away. The fact that the site contains burrows inhabited by crabs should be reason enough to halt the development immediately, according to Nature Trust.

Other important species such as the painted frog and the Bahrija bush cricket have also been recorded in the area.

“Last year, we stared in disbelief when we saw masses of blue clay and stone being bulldozed before our eyes just a couple of metres away from one of the most important freshwater springs in Malta and right in the middle of one of Malta’s supposedly top protected sites,” Nature Trust activist Annalise Falzon told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

She explained that the students she guides on walks along this “beautiful valley” always ask the unanswerable question: “How has this been allowed to happen?”

The development, she added, is not the only threat, but the one that has exacerbated other existing problems, such as polluted water and reduced water flow due to over extraction. Crabs often end up being squashed by bikes and cars traversing the path along the valley bed and a simple solution would be to install a wooden bridge as the road was built just on the valley bed, meaning that crabs cross it all the time and even have burrows right at the side of it. Nature Trust believes that only vehicles belonging to farmers and residents should be allowed to drive past.

Residents have also reported sewage leaks and environmentalists have noticed more algae – possibly another sign of excess nitrates.

The same environmental organisation has reported the matter locally and to the EU several times. In the meantime, this newspaper managed to obtain answers from Mepa to some of the questions that Nature Trust has been asking all along.

We asked whether any hydrological studies had been carried out to assess the effect of the development on the site, especially after the removal of truckloads of blue clay, the change in the morphology of the valley side, water percolation on site and the lack of mitigation measures on site.

Mepa replies

“This permit, by which the development is being carried out, had been approved prior to the entry into force of Legal Notice 311 of 2006, transposing the Habitats Directive, which states that member states are to carry out detailed assessments (formally known as an appropriate assessment) on projects that may potentially have a significant impact on a Special Areas of Conservation,” Mepa said in reply.

Outraged by this reply, Ms Falzon noted that the site lies “outside scheme” and that “planning legislation should be enough for that”. She pointed out that the site had already been scheduled as level 1 and had been given the highest level of protection under GN 063/96 since 1996.

“Even if the permit (development application) was considered before new legislation – this can never mean that a development can break the law,” she said. “The habitats directive concerns also the species on site.

“The freshwater crab has been protected since 1993 and was later also listed in Schedules III and VI of LN 311 of 2006. This was preceded by LN 257 of 2003, which had already established the need to protect this species,” she insisted.

Mepa was also asked about site monitoring, what is being done to address the problem of slow, stagnant water and drainage overflows and what conditions and mitigation measures were imposed on the developer to ensure that no debris falls into the water course.

While work was in progress, Mepa said, the site was monitored by enforcement personnel who carried out very frequent inspections, at times even daily, during sensitive phases of construction work. A number of conditions were imposed by the Environment Protection Directorate to protect the species and its habitat, following a review of the construction method statement submitted by the architect, it added.

Mepa also commented that there is no link between incidences of drainage overflow and the development. In any event, the site is not served by a sewage system and the development will, in fact, need to be supplied with a cesspit before it can be used.

“This cesspit has not yet been constructed and sewage system leaks fall under the competence of another authority,” it said.

Mepa pointed out that dust screens should be used on stockpiles at all times, irrespective of weather conditions, and they should be positioned strictly within the site perimeter. All vehicles should be cleaned before reaching the site and before leaving, in order to prevent overspills onto the sensitive surroundings as much as possible.

In view of site restrictions, the cleaning of vehicles and machinery should be carried out without any residual overspill onto the road and valley. Periodic cleaning of the road should be carried out to remove overspills. Further to the conditions mentioned in revised method statement and above, the generation of dust and overspills should be minimised as much as possible through the use of best practice methods in accordance with the Construction Site Management Regulations (2007).

“These mitigation measures have been effective, as there is no evidence that debris has fallen into the watercourse,” Mepa said.

It added that if the conditions imposed are not adhered to, enforcement action would be taken.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The proposed legal rape of Hondoq ir-Rummien

A hearing on the mega Hondoq ir-Rummien project was held in Qala on 27th May 2010.

RAM and FAA attended and made their representations. Below is a joint PR on this issue:

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar and the Ramblers’ Association deplore MEPA’s handling of the public consultation regarding the Environment Impact Assessment of the proposed hotel, villas, apartments, and yacht marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien, Gozo.

In view of the fact that a sizeable crowd was expected, the Qala school hall was chosen as a large enough venue. Why then, was part of the hall partitioned off, reducing the space available? By the time the public arrived, over half the seats were already occupied by the pro-development lobby, which meant that some members of the public were told they could not be accommodated. Why did it have to be Paul Buttigieg of Moviment Harsien Hondoq to demand that the partitions be removed, and not the Chairman of the MEPA session?

Similarly, it is well known that at every Gozo hearing there is a strong presence of foreign residents who have Gozo’s environment and well-being at heart. Why did the Chairman of the MEPA uphold the development lobby’s demand that not a word was to be said in English, one of Malta’s official languages, not even the briefest of synopses? Why was no provision made for English translation? If this is the level of hospitality the developers are offering foreigners, why build a hotel?

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. Furthermore 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.

Dangling the job-creation carrot in order to gain permits to build hotels in Out of Development Zone (ODZ) areas is a common device. 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 echo 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. Hondoq’s pristine waters make it an unsuitable location for a yacht marina. The NGOs maintain that since the expansion of a cruise liner quay at Mgarr was not allowed due to the presence of the protected posidonia, the same holds good for Hondoq Bay

A dangerous precedent is also being set by the building of a ‘temporary’ road for developers’ trucks to motor through green fields and potential archaeology sites, a state of affairs never permitted before. Similarly dangerous is the extremely high probability of anti-fouling and other hazardous chemicals leaching into a yacht marina adjacent to a popular swimming beach. Nor does the Traffic Impact Statement reflect the reality of Qala’s narrow village roads, already overwhelmed by heavy vehicles.

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.
The NGOS maintain that this project is designed to serve the private interests of a few people. The EIA tries to give the impression that the general public is being catered for, while in reality this project will ride roughshod over the wishes and well-being of the Qala residents and the vast majority of the residents of Malta and Gozo


Hondoq ir-Rummien in 1951

‘Save Hondoq’ condemns attitude at public hearing

‘Save Hondoq’ condemns attitude at public hearing

The ‘Save Hondoq` movement has condemned the attitude of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority and the developers at the public hearing of the environmental impact assessment of Hondoq on Thursday.

The movement criticised the “attitude and arrogance” of numerous individuals and Mepa on the way foreigners were dealt with during the hearing.

A number of foreigners who reside in Qala turned up for the hearing and they were insulted by people in favour of the development to the extent that some of them walked out, the movement said.

Mepa’s attitude that the law stated that the meeting had to be held in Maltese was not sufficient as the foreign residents who turned up for the meeting had the right to know and participate in the hearing about the project.

‘Save Hondoq’ thanked Astrid Vella for Flimkien Ghall Ambjent, Alex Vella on behalf of Ramblers, other non-governmental organisations and numerous individuals.

It also thanked the Qala council and its consultants, two of whom spoke during the hearing.

The movement said Alan Deidun put a strong argument against the marina. Making reference to official policies, not cited in the EIA, he argued that the project was not acceptable from a marine environment point of view.

Environment planning consultant Lino Bianco questioned how different the EIA, which was meant to be a scientific study of the impacts of the project, would read if it were a document intended to sell the project.


Joe Fenech(10 hours, 39 minutes ago)


Let us know so then we can try and figure out why you're part of the committee...!

Astrid Vella
(20 hours, 2 minutes ago)

@ J Mifsud, PaulCaruana: How can you comment on this session as from your comments, it's obvious that you were not present, unless you are dissembling. Contrary to what you say, Paul Buttigieg delivered his speech in Maltese, not English-I even saw his text written in Maltese. Like me he simply asked to repeat some key sentences in English, a request that was shouted down by the ignorant elements of the audience and shamefully refused by MEPA. I call these people ignorant, not because they don't understand English, as I'm sure they do, but you must be ignorant to behave so boorishly to guests in your midst. Still more so when you are planning to build a hotel to accommodate foreigners and behave that way towards them.

Unlike Paul Caruana claims, none of the foreigners present demanded that "an official meeting should change the language to one other than the local spoken language" all they politely asked for was a few key pointers in English. The NGO leaders asked to say a few sentences in English after they gave their full versions in Maltese.

This is indeed a black day for Gozo, and especially for MEPA after all its efforts to improve its image.

lesley kreupl
(1 day ago)
The whole project stinks of corruption with a capital C. After the demolition of the Mgarr Hotel Austin Walker promised that, that was the last hotel to be re-zoned into apartments. What is going to happen in a few years time to the project hotel when it goes bankrupt – if God forbid – it is built in the first place? More empty apartments to join the thousands already available?

I assume that the thugs paid to disrupt the meeting was not the developers idea of creating jobs on Gozo?

It really is time for all parties involved to sit down together and discuss what is best for Gozo, and not for their own pockets. An awful lot of money has already been wasted on various things (?), but it is not too late to reach an amicable agreement.

Surely it is clear that the majority of residents are against the marina and hotel project – is Malta a democracy or is it the Zimbabwe of the Mediterranean as someone nicknamed it recently? How very sad for this still beautiful island.
Gozo has so much to offer, don't destroy it.

Myra Falzon
(1 day ago)
@ Martin Debono
If, like you said, hell is anything like Hondoq in summer, then I'm losing my religion.

joseph cutajar
(1 day, 1 hour ago)
The meeting should have been in english so everybody can understand whats going on , and one of the reasons is that if they are smart enough to destroy hondoq they should be smart enough to speak and understand english , how dumb can somebody be ?? Hondoq is a jewel in the mediterenian , it should be cleaned up and not on the verge of being raped ,so it can be enjoyed by everyone who speaks maltese or not . A big thanks goes to all of you who are doing his best to protect hondoq .HANDS OFF HONDOQ!!!!!!!!!!

joe falzon
(1 day, 2 hours ago)
why all this hoopla about what language was used? let's not stray from the point --- maltese and non-Maltese speakers all know what is at stake ----- the destruction of Hondoq! sure, the project looks pretty but the price will be the ruin of countryside and sea! The price is too much! often, cosmetic surgery kills the patient! that is the question! Does MEPA have the right to ruin Hondoq, to turn it into a private area for the residents? they already say that over 50% of the projected parking will be reserved for the project residents? little by little they will take as much as they please. If i am not mistaken, the area was once an ODZ but not any more --- why did MEPA allow this to happen? Because the project was already in the making! What i can say about the language used at the meeting --- maybe in their cunning MEPA wants to give the impression that there aren't any complaints against the project from our foreign guests! One thing I'll say to MEPA --- I haven't read a single letter or blog in favor of the project!

Martin Debono
(1 day, 2 hours ago)
I agree that this development is excessive and I do not support it, but to be honest I was there last summer and the place was an absolute zoo. People crowded on top of each other on the small beach and elbow to elbow in the small area of shallow water near the shore; kids running all over everyone's towels and cigarette smoke drifting at nose height. I'm sure that it's all very picturesque the rest of the year but over the summer months it's probably as close to hell as you can get. I'm not saying let's develop the site but I wish that all of us would show consideration to the environment rather than expect this only from politicians and developers.

p buttigieg
(1 day, 3 hours ago)
@ j mifsud
As a matter of fact, my speech was NOT in English, My first sentence was this and I quote "I will be mainly speaking in Maltese but in some parts I will be speaking in English" but I was not even allowed to say this sentence because of all the yelling from the developers side.

I was going to say this out of respect to the foreigners that were present, I felt that at least they deserved that.

Since you were there, you know that what I had to say was in Maltese, but obviously the people in the front were not interested in hearing how the Hondoq project is going to affect ALL the residents of Qala. They were only interested in their personal gains from this project.

J. Mifsud
(1 day, 2 hours ago)
@ P. Buttigieg

The powerpoint presentation was all in English so they should not complain. If they wanted to speak or give a comment nobody was going to lament as there was time for whoever wanted to say his/her point. It was even extended by an hour by MEPA to hear comments as much as possible.

James A. Tyrrell
(1 day, 3 hours ago)
There is a lot being said about the fact that the meeting was held in Maltese rather than English and someone even mentioned that foreigners had 'demanded' that the meeting be held in English. This is total rubbish. The people you refer to as foreigners have chosen Gozo as their home, and they did so in many cases because the vast majority of Gozitans speak English, therefore what happens on Gozo is of importance to them as much as it is to a native Gozitan. No one 'demanded' that the meeting be held in English, they simply requested that important points be translated into English so that they had a chance to participate. The only ones who objected to this were MEPA and their friends the developers.

Get over this language thing and deal with what is important, the proposed destruction of Hondoq. This marina will totally destroy the pristine waters around Hondoq. The hotel is an unneeded sham, which will close down after a couple of years and be converted into apartments. None of this destruction will create jobs for young Gozitans and those who think it will are living in a dream world.

Romano Cassar(1 day, 3 hours ago)
Do some people actually think that this is just a marina? Do they know that this project includes a 170-bed hotel and about 300 residential units, along with “10 commercial shops, 5 catering establishments and other supporting buildings”. And that this was very kindly scaled down from an even larger application? And do people actually believe that this marina will appear out of nowhere? Do they know that it is proposed to be cut into an old quarry? Do they realise that this bay, with the cleanest waters in the Maltese islands, will be spoilt forever if this development goes ahead?

On this proposed rape of Hondoq, Alternattiva Demokratika have clearly laid out their position. What about the two major political parties? Can we see an official statement from them? Their continued silence can be interpreted in a number of ways.

James Galea
(1 day, 3 hours ago)
Why all the fuss about a marina? It’s not a power station like that of Delimara or a waste recycles plant like that in Marsascala. But a Marina they are proposing. The people of Cospicua did not complain at all and you know why? Cause instead of a creek full of filthy ships and tug boats and dry-dock now they have a nice marina with a very decent promenade to walk and enjoy their evenings. Believe me it’s better to have some tourist attraction area instead of some industrial area. For example it’s typical over there to build a waste recycle plant and if I am not wrong someone has already suggested it. If the Marina was to happen then no type of industrialization would take place. It’s not possible to be left alone with these bl...dy developers these days but one can choose from what is good and what is bad. You are lucky they came with a marina. Those in Masrasxlokk are not as lucky as you cause instead of a marina they are getting yet another PowerStation with the one existing already being fined for its emissions.

J. Mifsud
(1 day, 3 hours ago)
@ James Galea

You are more than right.
Also one should not forget that this development is going to take place in a quarry full of dumping (partly dumped in 1996 by the then local council) and infested with rats which go down to the beach in summer during bbqs.
Romano Cassar(1 day, 3 hours ago)
Apart from the facts that Malta has two official languages, and that the MEPA website is only in English, it is also a question of common decency to make an effort so that foreign residents can participate. After all, these people actually chose to live here, so they must think there is something worthwhile. Is this the attitude that these “benevolent” developers want to project?
Is this their method of trying to cut out objections to this mega-project, designed to serve the interests of the few over the many?
J S Borg(1 day, 4 hours ago)
Few years ago we used to mention the slums of: mandragg, laqxija, due balle, balzunetta and some others. Nowadays MEPA is creating the new modern slums, Tigne, sliema, H'attard and many other places. High rise building with limited air space as backyards or open space.
Charles Sammut (NY USA)(1 day, 4 hours ago)
Re Comments..It seems to me that Hondoq is about to get raped and many posters are more concerned if the offenders are about to use condoms or not. It really does not matter in what language the hearings were held. The concerned foreign nationals attending had a right to be heard but their presence alone was an indication on how they felt on the matter. Once Hondoq becomes another Zewwieqa it will be too late..By the way I cannot help but notice what Hypocrites the local politicians are.. They are so quick in capitalising on the slogan of ECO GOZO but when it comes to doing something and standing up and be counted on the side of preserving the environment they are nowhere to be found. Probably working hard in the background in cahoots with the speculators on which Green Area building permit they are going to help procure...Fiddling Nero while Rome was burning looks pale in comparison....
Frans Gauci(1 day, 2 hours ago)
Right Charles Sammut - because here in the U.S. politicians have not association whatsoever with the business community!! By all means criticize what you don't agree with but don't insult our intelligence by making it sound as if previously unheard of things are happening in Malta and Gozo. Some economic decisions no doubt have political considerations behind them. But politicians in Malta also face constant dilemmas between promoting economic growth and restraining its negative effects on small but densely populated islands.

P buttigieg
(1 day, 5 hours ago)

@ j mifsud
Movement Harsien Hondoq and the Local Council invited ALL of Qala to the public hearing and since these foreigners live in Qala they were invited as well.

The only objectors to a few words being said in English were the developers themselves. No one asked for the whole of the meeting to be in English.

These foreigners deserved a bit of respect, mind you the developers submitted their EIA in English.

J. Mifsud(1 day, 3 hours ago)
@ P. Buttigieg

The people in the front row objected to YOU mostly to read the typed four page or so speech in English.

Also note that by regulation all MEPA public hearings are held in the Maltese language.

In Brussels we expect that our MEPs speak in Maltese & these English speaking residents think that in our own country a public hearing will be held in English. GIVE US A BREAK!!

a.sciberras(1 day, 6 hours ago)
a clear example of NOT " to practice what you preach"

Louis Schembri
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
@ Paul Caruana
With every respect, yours is yet another unwarranted comment. If the future of Hondoq concerns people who have been accepted and integrated as local residents, then they have every right to participate in decisions that concern their current and future domicile, irrespective of whether they are from Timbuktu or whether they speak the local lingo or not. After all I suppose all they asked was for proceedings to be carried out in English, Malta's second language and now universally accepted as the primary language in international communications. Naturally if those who attended the meeting to support the developers are so dense as to be unable to speak the English language, that's their problem. A "foreigner" has EVERY RIGHT to expect that a discussion that concerns him and his family is carried out in a language that he and everybody else understand.

David Dandria
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
"Mepa’s attitude that the law stated that the meeting had to be held in Maltese..."

With all due respect, the law has been misinterpreted. The relevant section is Reg. 25 (7) of the EIA Regulations, 2007 (L.N. 114 of 2007) which states: "The Director of Environment Protection shall chair and regulate the proceedings of the public hearing. He shall, as much as is reasonable give every person present in the hearing who wishes to make any submissions the opportunity to air his views on the environmental implications of the proposed development. The language of the public hearing shall be in Maltese." Clearly this means that the meeting should be conducted in Maltese, but does not exclude the use of English when this is necessary. "He SHALL as much as is reasonable give every person present.... the opportunity to air his views...." is a very strong statement which is not negated by the last sentence of the Regulation. The Regulations also allows for submission of written statements (no language is specified) up to 7 days after the meeting. This gives those non-Maltese speakers who were present the opportunity to air their views and I urge them to do so..

Mark Thorogood
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Why is the MEPA website entirely in English ?

David John
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Now it's too late. Dr. Gonzi got what he wanted that is power. No one can stop him. Issa tridu tgawdu l-konsegwenzi.

Charles Sammut
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Re Comments...Hondoq as we know it could be facing a transformation that would change its character for ever and people are more upset at the language used at the Public Hearing. Get your priorities right please and get concerned that if the speculators get their way you can kiss Hondoq goodbye and stop worring on unconsequencial trivialities. Hondoq should be spared and kept in it's natural format for all of us and future generation to enjoy.. Whoever wants to watch moored boats and unclean water just take a ten minute drive to Xlendi or Marsalforn. You would not be dissappointed..
laurence schembri(1 day, 6 hours ago)
And the rape goes on. I was under the impression that Gozo was to become an Eco-Island. Is the ruin of Hondoq an example of it?

Peter Murray
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Dear Mr.Caruana,

How do you know that the foreigners "demanded" English be spoken,as opposed to a request?Also does Malta not posssess two(2) official languages?
Joseph Tonna(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Mepa ibqa sejra hekk bdin l atitudni ....kullimkien bini...prosit eh , success qedin namlu

Joseph M. Scicluna
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
@ Louis Schembri

I assure you I am not one of THEM in disguise, infact I detest people making a gross profit sacrificing the beautiful nature Gozo have been endowed with.
Joseph Calleja(1 day, 5 hours ago)
Mr Scicluna I still did not see you print an apology to all resident foreigners. These people pay as much vat as you do, they also invest in the Gozo economy in many ways. So please don't bite the hand that feeds you. Sometimes I think foreigners care more about Malta and Gozo than a lot of Maltese and Gozitans do. These people are invited guests of the Maltese Government and the Maltese people.

Paul Caruana
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
This is outrageous! In no country, bar Malta and Gozo, would a foreigner dare turn up and expect, much less demand, that a discussion pertinent to a local situation be carried out in any other language except the local national language. If some of these foreigners have been living so long with us, then one would expect them to take the trouble to learn the local lingo.

The idea that an official meeting should change the language to one other than the local spoken language because a small minority of foreingers turn up is deeply offensive to the rest of the community.

carmelo aquilina
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Spare us your hollow nationalism ! Maltese AND English are teh two offical languages of Malta the lawst time I looked. The Givernment Gazzette is bilingual, and the Enlish speaking residnets in Gozo pay taxes like everyone. They HAVE a right to speak and be heard !

Janet Bayes
(1 day, 5 hours ago)
So Paul Caruana - - nowhere else in the world eh? So Wales dont hold meetings in English as opposed to the native welsh? The Scottish parliament holds meetings in gaelic? TOSH!!! MANY other countries hold meetings in languages more than the mother tongue, so that the local population understand what is going on. Parts of the UK are renowned for their meetings in Urdu, Bangladeshi, Polish, Portuguese, among many others. None of them are OFFICIALLY a language of the country, unlike English in MALTA and GOZO.

G Caruana
(1 day, 5 hours ago)
Mr Caruana
It's interesting that you wrote in English to Malta's best selling newspaper, which is published in English. Doesn't that make you wonder whether English is a useful language to use?

Charles Sammut (NY USA)
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Again MEPA and the developers saw it fit to attack the messenger as a distraction from the gloom and doom the project would bring to Hondoq. Those that want to impose that Project that the majority opposes cannot defend their actions so they resort to name calling.Hondoq is loved the way it is. To take it away so that a few get richer smacks of the robber barons of the old days. Anybody in his right mind knows what over development has done to Xlendi and Marsalforn..Trying going down there and find a parking space...tough luck unless you are willing to keep going in circles. And most recently both the Imgarr Hotel and L-Andar Hotel went out of business so why does Hondoq need another Hotel? Please do not take away one of the last natural resources left on Gozo so that speculators can get richer. It would have a negative effect on tourism also because most visitors enjoy a nice cool swim and not looking at moored yatchs and speeding motorboats. They enjoy marveling at clear clean water and not oil slick polluted waters. So please let no one mess with Hondoq..It is great the way it is now.

leo attard
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
@J Scicluna......Maltese isn't an official language in England, but English is in Malta. so your argument about having a translator in England is invalid
leo attard(1 day, 7 hours ago)
English is malta's official language alongside Maltese. Legally, the foreigners had the right to some feedback in english, if not a translation of the proceedings. So if MEPA is claiming a law that forces the proceedings to be in English, then it contradicts the official status of the English language. Can MEPA provide concrete reference to the law so one can look it up for him/herself. The meeting was a sham, a poor attempt by MEPA at democracy. Most people feel that the project is a fait accompli ------ if an ex-president's son is involved in the project does anyone think that MEPA will say 'NO' to him? And why is it that Pollidano has already taken it for granted that he's getting the job? Mr. Vince Farrugia insulted Gozitans by claiming Gozitans don't want investment in Gozo. why would a foreigner invest in Gozo when they are treated disrespectfully as what happened at the local meeting? is that why the factories at xewkija closed down? aren't we supposed to invest in an eco-gozo?

Vincent Buttigieg
(1 day, 7 hours ago)
As far as I know the Maltese law stipulates that Maltese AND English are the official languages of the country. Of course, MEPA, being very often above the law itself, can decide otherwise.

Preventing the foreign residents from participating at the Qala 'hearing' by imposing a language barrier smacks of discrimination, something completely against EU laws.

I honestly think that the 'hearing' should be repeated and its organisation should be taken completely out of the hands of the applicants, MEPA and any of the objector associations or individuals.

Pierre Mangion
(1 day, 7 hours ago)
@ J Scicluna. i totally disagree with your opinion regarding foreigners. apart from investing in property, surely they have their own experiences to share with the Maltese and Gozitan.

as for the project itself, i seems that private profits are being disguised behind the smoke screen of employment and investment. the only to benefit from this project will be the investors. should there need the be of hotel rooms in Gozo, i would like to ask why Mgarr Hotel was allowed to close and be converted into apartments??? where is the promise of employment behind this project???

i agree the Hondoq area should be rehabilitated but into something which the whole community (Qala residents, Gozitan, Maltese and all foreigners) and not just a few that can afford buying into this project.

David Pace
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
Having attended in person I can say that it was the singular most disgraceful act by the organisers and/or Chair of the public meeting to prevent certain speakers saying even a few words in English. English is recognised as a joint first language alongside Maltese. I think it was grossly disrespectful to these residents and embarrassing for me as a Gozitan.

Some 10% of attendees were foreigners, many who have lived here for 40 years. Several speakers pleaded to the chair to say a few words also in English and were shouted down and also prevented by the chair from doing so. The fact that foreign residents were effectively not allowed to participate and communicate through a common language or at least an interpreter, shows what a sham the meeting was.

The meeting should clearly have been held in Maltese. But if a speaker felt more comfortable to speak in English, or wished to repeat some points for the benefit of the foreign residents, then they should not have been prevented from doing so. I attended the meeting with an open mind, but left feeling disappointed and embarrassed!

J. Mifsud
(1 day, 7 hours ago)
I was there too. SOS Hondoq knew of their presence (as most of them were purposely invited from this lobby group) and should told one of their group instead of disrupting the public hearing they translate to these fellows. In this way the meeting would have been less noisy.

Louis Schembri
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
@ Joseph A. Scicluna
Saving Hondoq from the clutches of speculators is definitely not just a "Maltese matter". It concerns every person residing in Malta and Gozo, be they locals or adopted foreigners. And everybody has the right to make themselves heard and to follow proceedings in matters that concern them. So your saying that foreigners shouldn't have attended the meeting is TOTALLY out of place and uncalled for, And by the way, i don't believe for a second that you are in favour of saving Hondoq. You sound more like one of THEM in disguise.

M Grech
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
It is very true that one should preserve Hondoq ir-Rummien, but it is the quarry which is full of debris and pretty much an eyesore which will change.

My point is that we need investment in Gozo, not for the developers to get rich; but for the Gozitan youths to have more employment opportunities locally, and not have to cross to Malta daily. Malta and Gozo like every other country, are shifting towards a services industry which is mainly based on tourism. One has to understand that such infrastructural projects would boost the economy of Gozo and give a better lifestyle to the same Gozitans.

Therefore, the whole population of Gozo would benefit from such a project. I hope that people reflect on this point. Furthermore, in my opinion, I think it would be egoistic for people to keep the beach for themselves and not share it for the good of the community.

I hope that such a project is done with the required research to reduce the environmental impact. Progress should be about sustainable development, there is sustainability and preservation; but there is no development!
david debattista(1 day, 7 hours ago)

M Grech
your statements are a contradiction........... How many hotel were closed and
put down in Gozo. They had made similar statements such as yours. There is no
truth in it for the simple reason that experience tells a totally different story.
If some of the beaches are going to be destroyed then why bother coming to Gozo at all.

J. Mifsud
(1 day, 7 hours ago)
I agree with you statement.

Adrian Cardona
(1 day, 5 hours ago)
"but for the Gozitan youths to have more employment opportunities locally." As what? As waiters, cleaners and general dogsbodies? WHile the best jobs are taken up by the usual people?
"it would be egoistic for people to keep the beach for themselves and not share it for the good of the community" Please clarify? Who exactly is keeping the beach to themselves?
Haven't we seen the story repeat itself so many times? A mega 5* hotel opens amid much fanfare, then it is torn down a few years later citing lack of business? Is anyone going to believe that their business case was so faulty that they couldnt forsee it, or is it done on purpose to get the land at cheap 'tourism' rates? Halluna tridu...

l. theuma
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
Hondoq ir-Rummien forms part of a unique archeological panorama. MEPA hands off.

M. Micallef
(1 day, 7 hours ago)
Hondoq Bay is but the quarry and the destroyed surroundings isn't!

(1 day, 8 hours ago)
MEPA is a disaster. What reform dear Dr. Gonzi? Ghal bazuzli biss halli jkommplu jghaffgu iktar minn qatt qabel. Grazzi tat-tahwid li tajtna.

Gaby Micallef Trigona
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
The Maltese Isands were once known as the 'Fior del Mondo'. With the charm of the islands slowly disapearing, and with the increase of buildings, cars, garbage plus the shortshightedness of MEPA theyt will soon turn into a SLUM OF THE MEDITERRANEAN.
Surely MEPA do you all only see as far as your nosses????
Safeguard the unique charm of HONDOQ: NO more development projects.

Joseph M. Scicluna
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
@ Mr James A. Tyrrell

I fully agree with your second paragraph and can only be too grateful for doing so. But let's say that such a meeting was held somewhere in the UK and I am a resident there, there would have been no translator for me, for sure. Yes, you may have a lot of time on your hands, entertain yourself by having a go at the Maltese language.

@ John Meilaq

That Maltese guy who wanted to berth his yacht therat is one of the speculators who have no respect whatsoever for the love of our environmant.

J. Borg(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Mr. may wish to note that English, together with Maltese, are OFFICIAL languages in Malta.

(1 day, 8 hours ago)
In Malta the big fish always swallowed the small one. Those in power overrun even their costituents. The Queen of Eco Gozo hails from Nadur. Qala is escluded from Eco Gozo. So it is destined. The irregularities held in the public hearing confirm this. Government institutions which are duty bound to protect the citizen are often corrupt and fail to do what is right.
Miskina l-Qala! X' Ser ji─írila!

Stephen Koludrovic
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
Let Hondoq remain as it is. Have,th we not already destroyed enough of these islands without adding Hondoq to the list.

James A. Tyrrell
(1 day, 9 hours ago)
@Joseph M. Scicluna. With all respect I have to disagree with you here Joseph. There are a lot of foreigners living in Gozo now and they inject a lot of cash into the local economy. It's also a fact that since the majority of these people have retired they have a lot of time on their hands, which many of them use for the good of the island by supporting such projects as the Save Hondoq campaign.

I think it's totally wrong to look on these people as interfering foreigners when they do what they do out of love for the island they live on. I agree that the meeting should have taken place in Maltese but I also feel that some provision should have been made to provide translation for those non-Maltese speakers who truly care about their new homeland.

M Vella
(1 day, 9 hours ago)
Hands of Hondoq, Malta and Gozo please wake uuuuuuupppppp

paul baldacchino
(1 day, 7 hours ago)
Reference to Mr.Joseph Scicluna. Please note that since these so called foreigners have been living here for 5 years or more they are entitled to participate as much as they are eligibe to vote in the local council election. Their participation only shows that they have the good of Qala very much at heart.

M Saliba
(1 day, 9 hours ago)
SAVE HONDOQ - The present and future generations have a right to enjoy the natural beauty of Hondoq Ir-Rummien. It should be safe-guarded together with the surrounding environment.

The tourist industry can build hotels elsewhere and then tourists can drive to Hondoq ir-Rummien to enjoy it as it is.

It is clear that Nadur citizens are totally against this development. The government should listen.
Joseph M. Scicluna(1 day, 9 hours ago)
"Foreigners walked out"

In the first place they shouldn't have attended such a proper totally Maltese meeting. I do welcome foreigners who wish to legally reside on our Island but please don't indulge in purely Maltese matters. However, I am also in favour of saving Hondoq ir-Rummien..
john mejlaq(1 day, 9 hours ago)
I totally disagree with you. The foreigners are all residents in qala and they have the right to show their opinion. Qala has a total of 5% of foreigners... mustn't they have the right to show their opinion like the maltese and gozitans did? If you want to put it this way there was a maltese guy that talked he musnt have talked also because for me he's a foreigner more than tourists resident here.

The tourists residents here have lived here for long years... that guy who talked came out of the blue and said i need to put my yacht here.. so i think that you should revise what you have said.
Roderick Cutajar(1 day, 8 hours ago)
If you were to go reside abroad wouldn't you want to object to a development that will have an adverse affect on you? I don't think you would admit you were a foreigner and let everyone walk roughshod all over you like some second class citizen.

Wilfred Camilleri
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
Come on Joseph! These are people who live there and as such they have the right to voice their opinion since they too will be impacted by the proposed development. Let's not be xenophobic. They should have been heard. Speaking English is not a crime. After all ,English it is an official language of Malta as well and the majority of people understand it and can speak it fluently!

david debattista
(1 day, 8 hours ago)
M . Scicluna, If they bought property here then they have every right !
Lets face it , the people in general are sick and fed up with the building industry so are the foreigners. The Maltese people in general do not want any more abuse by the fats cats any longer. If this is going to go on, also now this insult on foreigners who have invested in our country, you are going to end up with a total boycott of foreign investment in property.
You are asking to bring this on yourself with your attitude. IT IS NOT TO FAR IN THE FUTURE. Hands off Hondoq! or face a possible BOYCOTT. We already have a bad reputation. You should face the facts if you people want to solve this problem once and for all and that is............. The building industry cannot support the employment of over 12000 if not more, given the landmass of our islands, and building density NO MORE NO LESS. FACE IT. Most of which are unoccupied builds.

Mario Xuereb
(1 day, 7 hours ago)
I have a feeling you are contradicting yourself, here, sir. On the one hand you proclaim that foreigners are welcome; on the other, you say that they should not interfere in things that are purely Maltese. What do you mean by that? I know what you mean: you mean that where it suits you, you want the presence of the foreigners; where it does not suit you, you don't want the foreigners to express themselves. Oh, I know youuuuu! You continually write about the need for a full-blown airfield on the island of Gozo. You top the list of those who want to destroy the environment that is Gozo today.

Janet Bayes
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Well, Mr. Scicluna, you think that a maltese meeting was being held?? WRONG - - it was a gozitan meeting, its outcome and the proposed development in the area having an adverse effect on the residents and the beauty of the LOCAL area. No matter that the residents are gozitan, or british, or from timbuktu. If it is going to affect your everyday life you have a right to be at the meeting, to be listening to and understanding the events, and to be heard to have a point of view. It is certainly undemocratic of this country to be holding meetings in ONLY the mother tongue. Other countries in Europe provide information in many other languages to ensure integration of cultures. You seem to be coming at this with a them and us attitude.
Before you bite back with the usual snipe of "learn the language if you live here" - - - tell us where and how we can do it LOCALLY for free as do foreigners living in MALTA.

Mario Buttigieg
(1 day, 6 hours ago)
Joseph, What a load of crap. Foreigners have invested what they have to settle in Malta. They pay taxes i.e. VAT, just as much as you do.. We have a long standing industry catering to attract foreigners to settle in Malta. And here comes you telling them not to interfere. This is their business as much as it is yours. Haven’t you realised yet that with EU membership, EU citizens meaning nationals from 26 member states including Bulgarians and Romanians have the right to vote in local council elections? And this means that they have a say on what happens in their neighbourhood. What right do you have to tell them to shut up?
M. Buttigieg

(1 day, 9 hours ago)
Ir-riforma ga saret jew ghada gejja?

Finanzi (tal-bazuzli) fis-Sod!