Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Hondoq - Can't afford to make mistakes - de Marco

Ħondoq project

Can't afford to make mistakes - de Marco

The authorities cannot afford to make any mistakes over a proposal to develop the "pristine" bay at Ħondoq ir-Rummien in Gozo, Tourism Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco said yesterday.

Contacted in the wake of last Thursday's rowdy public hearing on the proposed controversial marina village in Qala, Dr de Marco said it was too simplistic to talk about the advantages of a yacht marina at Ħondoq without also looking at the impact this may have on the bay.

"Our environment is too small to afford to suffer any more mistakes than we have already committed in the past, sometimes even in the name of tourism and progress," he told The Sunday Times.

"One has to examine such proposed projects with great caution, especially if we want to promote 'responsible tourism' for our future," he said.

Dr de Marco, whose remit includes the environment and the planning authority, said that ultimately it was a matter of weighing the advantages a marina may have against the impact on the environment of the specific locality where it was proposed, on marine life and the adjacent bay.

"That is what sustainable development requires. That is what responsible tourism demands," he said.

The project - comprising a five-star hotel, 285 residential units and villas, 731 underground parking spaces, 10 shops, five restaurants and a marina for some 150 boats - has been dogged by controversy since Gozo Prestige Holidays filed an application in 2002.

The €120 million development on a disused quarry owned by Victor Bajada was inspired by the "hanging garden effect" of villages dotting the Amalfi Coast in Italy, but environmental NGOs and residents were not impressed.

In 2002, Qala council held a referendum in which 85 per cent of residents voted to keep Ħondoq ir-Rummien bay free of development. They remain strongly opposed to the project as witnessed during the heated hearing organised by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority last week.

During that meeting, mayor Paul Buttigieg said the majority of residents would continue to oppose the development as long as the yacht marina, which they believed threatened the bay's integrity, remained part of the plans.

However, Edward Bencini, the architect entrusted with drafting the project, feels the marina is a crucial element.

"You can buy a Rolls Royce or a Mini Minor. A marina is the quality project Gozo deserves. Everybody raised hell about the Hilton marina in St Julian's years ago. Today everyone realises the marina is the project - it gives it essence," he said when contacted.

Eight years on, despite ongoing opposition, the developers still believe in the project and Mr Bencini insists the presence of a marina village in Gozo "will give it the missing jewel in its crown".

"We believe Gozo deserves a project of this nature. We have a vision for it. Just because of a few people who have their private interests at heart and believe the Qala beach is theirs and theirs alone... does not mean that a necessary and quality project such as this should not see the light of day," he said.

"This is all a matter of proper management. This was done in Italy, France and Greece, why not in Malta?" Mr Bencini said.

Environment NGOs and Alternattiva Demokratika yesterday reiterated their opposition to the marina village.

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar and the Ramblers' Association issued a joint statement maintaining that this project was designed to serve the private interests of a few and "ride roughshod" over the wishes and well-being of the people.

The statement also deplored Mepa's handling of the public consultation, a sentiment echoed by the Save Ħondoq Movement.

Alternattiva Demokratika spokesman for sustainable development Carmel Cacopardo said the rowdy meeting made it clear the proposed development was still based on speculators taking over land used for leisure and restricting the public right to access the beach.


Mike F Abbot(8 hours, 39 minutes ago)
Dr de Marco - "ultimately it was a matter of weighing the advantages a marina may have against the impact on the environment of the specific locality where it was proposed, on marine life and the adjacent bay."

What about the people Dr De Marco?? your people.... the equation is still to simplistic until you add your public!! it's not just about environment vs developers vs tourism.

Time and again, it's the people, ironically the overwhelming majority, of the country that get considered last, if at all.

Our precious developer empire is left to lay siege on our islands and time we have no knights to protect us.

Or do we, Dr de Marco?

Romano Cassar(19 hours, 38 minutes ago)
Dr de Marco has offered some hope to the vast majority who are against this mega project. From what I have seen, it is only these so-called developers and their contractors who are in favour, and this is only because they do not have a conscience; they do not care if everyone else loses out in the long run, as long as they get to make a quick buck. “I’m OK, stuff the rest of the world.”

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 build.

On this proposed rape of Hondoq ir-Rummien, Alternattiva Demokratika have clearly laid out their position. What about the two major political parties? Can we get a clear and official statement from them, rather than just saying that it is being featured in their media? Their continued silence can be interpreted in a number of ways.
joe falzon(20 hours, 54 minutes ago)
There seems to be some implying that if the developers scrap the marina project then the housing project will be considered. this goes against the wishes of the people who expressed their opinion in a referendum ---- no housing project either! Keep hondoq bay in its natural state. It is obvious that the developers and their connections are putting pressure on certain individuals to pave the way for the project. Mr.Bencini is not presenting the facts when he says that the project opposers form only a small group that believe Hondoq is theirs alone. The pro-project group was quite small compared to the opposing group at the Qala meeting. I'm sure Mr.Bencini isn't doing it for free. The families who use Hondoq for relaxation, Gozitan/ Maltese/ and foreign alike, have everything to lose with the project ---- mr. Bencini who doesn't swim at Hondoq has everything to gain --- money! So you tell me, Mr Bencini, who are these few people with their interest at heart! What interest can their be in preserving Hondoq? What financial gain can there be in it for them? None, just a quiet place to relax? What do you gain from the project -- MONEY
Valeria Tabone(22 hours, 8 minutes ago)
Please everyone send email to mepa on this email addres eiamalta@mepa.org.mt with your reasons for disapproval. Number of emails sent can influence mepa decision! Send your contributions by 3rd June!!!
Astrid Vella(1 day, 1 hour ago)

Well said John Montague!

I all boils down to sound planning, where Malta sadly fails time and time again as we are so reluctant to go for long-term plans, and by long-term I mean longer than the next election.

FAA has always pressed for holistic planning as exemplified by Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs). The refusal to carry out SEAs in the 2006 Rationalisation Plans is a tragic loss for this country as with every passing week developers are applying for permits to build more large tracts of our countryside into estates of 50 - 500 housing units. And this in a country that already has over 75,000 empty housing units.

Incidentally the Hondoq project is not just touristic but includes a large component of real estate.

It is very heartening to read Dr. de Marco's enlightened words "Our environment is too small to afford to suffer any more mistakes than we have already committed in the past, sometimes even in the name of tourism and progress"
George Attard(1 day, 8 hours ago)
Eco Gozo, no building in ODZ, MEPA reform....all unkept pre election promises. The people deserve better from our political parties but unfortunately the only party to stand up for the people is Alternattiva Demokratika. The people should realize that the only way forward is to have AD representing us at Parliament level.
A.Gatt(1 day, 8 hours ago)
It is insane how SO many people are opposed to the project yet the people concerned STILL want to go ahead with it. The people have no voice here.....nothing..... SHAME !!!
isabelle micallef grimaud(1 day, 19 hours ago)
Hats off to Dr de Marco for admitting that we are suffering from our past mistakes! If he puts his money where his mouth is, there may be hope. But can the MEPA monster be halted? Unfinished shells are rife, thanks to MEPA, so hands off our lovely Gozo and Hondoq.

As to the development being dubbed 'the missing jewel in the crown" by Mr Bencini: it was the German novelist and poet, GOETHE, who called PRAGUE the prettiest gem in the stone crown of the world - for its beautiful 18th century architecture which can still be admired to this day. Ruining the natural beauty of Gozo can hardly be described in such sublime terms.

Why don't we start thinking outside the box, for a change, and build marinas and fancy hotels on RECLAIMED land in areas that have ALREADY been ruined by overdevelopment, thanks to MEPA?

Fish gotta swim and bird gotta fly,
Man gotta build right up to the sky...Can't help blaming the MEPA guy.

Some say that he's crazy, some say that he's slow,
Some say that he's lazy, boy, DO I know...Can't help...
(apologies to O. Hammerstein and J.Kern)

victor pulis(1 day, 19 hours ago)
Mr Bencini insists the presence of a marina village in Gozo "will give it the missing jewel in its crown".
Mr. Bencini, the jewel is already there. You just don't see it.
david debono(1 day, 19 hours ago)
Anglu Xerri(1 day, 20 hours ago)
Qala is half dead already from the quarries, so as the centre of the village from dump trucks that circle Qala continuosly six days a week and sometimes on sundays, going by primary and kinder schools using the narrowest of roads spewing diesel fumes, carbon monoxide, dust, noise, damaging peoples properties were a car and a truck cannot go by each other in places. People died of cancer in these roads. The health and safety never did anything about it. This is not all, the bottom of the sea around the quarries is full of garbage, rubble walls are all buldozed and burried with other garbage that these trucks carry. The final blow to Qala will come if MEPA issue permits to built Qala Creek Project at Hondoq Ir- Rummien. Is like an arrow through every heart of the 85% of the residents that voted against this project in a referendum. A referendum that has been ignored for the past 8 years aproved by your government Mr de Marco. 8 years lost Mr de Marco because if this project was scraped then, may be a park for all the people of these islands would have been built by now.
Marcassar(1 day, 22 hours ago)
Perit Bencini Jekk tibza ghall ambjent mini minor mur ixtri
E.Cini(1 day, 22 hours ago)
Hope Mepa board wont forget that just half a mile away from Hondoq, once there was a 5 star Hotel called Imgarr Hotel with a marina beneath. Now the ex hotel is turning into a block of apartments!
smifsud(1 day, 23 hours ago)

James A. Tyrrell(1 day, 23 hours ago)
@Frans Gauci. Where did I bring politics into this discussion?
a.bonello(1 day, 23 hours ago)
As a Maltese citizen i expect the NP and the LP to show a clear position ....... (it wont happen!!)

To the maltese people...lets stop this farce that we call maltese politics once and for all. Where we are made to believe one party is against the other while both enjoy the benefits behind the scenes. So fed up of this NONSENSE. Lets stop my party and your party talk and lets defend MALTA from the people WE have elected...We have a moral obligation towards ourselves and our children. We NEED to stop fighting each other and realize the problems are elsewhere. Let us mature a bit more if need be. We cannot continue to show our protest and then perpetuate our vote (which ever party we are with). We Need to make sure that our politicians work for us, for MALTA. But when you are faced by developers bringing in millions then i start to worry. Cos then Who is daddy MR politician? eh?
Joseph calleja(1 day, 22 hours ago)
Mr Bonello, you hit the nail right on the head. You cannot say it any better. Most everything done in Malta is for the party and not for the Maltese Citizen or Malta in general. Politics and greed are two dirty words and that's when Malta is at its best. Remember JFK's words. It's not what this country can do for you, but what you can do for this country. Viva Malta!
Robert Agius(1 day, 23 hours ago)
"You can buy a Rolls Royce or a Mini Minor. A marina is the quality project Gozo deserves. Everybody raised hell about the Hilton marina in St Julian's years ago. Today everyone realises the marina is the project - it gives it essence," he said when contacted.

Or you can take a stroll and it's not only free, but healthy too.

Re Hilton, 'everyone' raised hell since it was stolen from people and the permit issue was slightly shady. Personally, I fail to see the big deal about the Hilton project today either. Of course, unlike you I can't speak for everyone.
J Portelli(2 days ago)
"We believe Gozo deserves a project of this nature. We have a vision for it. Just because of a few people who have their private interests at heart and believe the Qala beach is theirs and theirs alone... does not mean that a necessary and quality project such as this should not see the light of day"... The only people who have private interests at heart are the developers... the architect's argument is a poor excuse to discredit the Qala people and make the project sound like something wonderful. Gozo is nothing like Italy and Greece and we do not have land to spare for turning into yacht marinas. If the project is nothing without the yacht marina, then abandon it altogether, because this is not a quality project nor are there any advantages in it except for the developers.
Helen Carter retired.(2 days, 1 hour ago)
We are as you say foreigners or guests residing in the area, however the way we were treated at the meeting, i am afraid we lost interest , since were were so to speak treated as second class citizens by some individuals, such ill-mannered rudeness towards us foreigners, we mean good and in good faith however some of the mepa and specualtors were so rude that we decided to walk out and not turn back. Most of us are actualy seriously thinking of moving out altogether and call it a day to beautiful Gozo. Its a big shame and pity and the damage has now been down and this would leave a long lasting impack on someof your people the way they behaved towards us.
Frans Gauci(2 days ago)
Give it a rest with all these complaints about not being able to speak at the MEPA meeting. You Anglo expats pretty much spend your entire time on these islands in an opinionated state of mind. Is this what you call "retirement"?
janet bayes(2 days ago)
My dear Helen - - where you gonna go love? Back to the Uk?? For what? Because some rude developer and the planning idiots were rude? Because some people are so ignorant that they cannot see the harm they want to do to this beautiful island? If that were reason to leave, I would have turned back the day I arrived. I cannot believe that you have none of you met this attitude before. We meet it constantly. Unfortunately it seems sometimes that we have to pay for the sins of our fathers (or grandfathers).
The issue is, as I see it, not one of the ignorance of the "foreigner bashers". The issue is to stop this constant wanton destruction of the natural beauty of the place. You can't do that if you run away.
lesley kreupl(2 days ago)
Well said Ms Carter, however why should be let a bunch of ignorant bullies chase us away from an island we love, one in which we have settled and invested in?

Rather let's fight against these rapists for the good of the island and the Gozitans, most of whom are wonderful, caring people.

I do Know how you feel though, I have felt that way many times in the past.

J.F. Vassallo Ebejer(1 day, 23 hours ago)
The Maltese have never had any problems with foreigners – indeed, we need to entice more people to make Malta and Gozo their home.

People were rude because they are afraid that they will lose money- and for them money is above everything else.

They do not dislike you because you are a “foreigner”, they dislike you because you do not simply roll over and let them walk all over you.

If it is of any consolation, they hate even “fellow” Maltese and Gozitans who oppose them.

For the vast majority of us, people who have invested here and made Malta/Gozo their home are not “foreigners” – you have just as much right as anyone else to make your opinion heard, and respected.

Wilfred Camilleri(1 day, 23 hours ago)
@ Frans Gauci If Anglo expats live in Malta they have a right to express their opinions. Malta is a democratic country the last time I checked. They have as much right as you to voice their opinion - in either of the two Maltese official languages, that is English or Maltese. Grow up!
B Galea(6 hours, 46 minutes ago)
@ Helen Carter - my sincerest apologies for the ill-mannered and downright brutish behaviour you and other ex-pats were subjected to at the MEPA meeting. We're not all boors - unfortunately, many of us still subscribe to the 'he who shouts loudest, wins' model of debate
S Pecorella(2 days, 2 hours ago)
the architect in question compares malta to italy, france and greece....ehmmm, is he aware that italy, france and greece are much, much bigger than malta and that they still have many open, undeveloped spaces which are not being developed???
john zammit(2 days, 2 hours ago)
Mr Bencini may we remind that what fits and whats godd for italy / spain/ and greece do not fit for gozo, and it was not A handful of people that objects to this so called jewel in the crown
But 85% Of the pupuation of malta and gozo, stop these ruins and rape of this true jewel in the mediteranean, I am glad that at least we have a strong tourism minister that opposes this project He really have the maltese and gozo people at heart And he is not afraid to condem any wrong doing Well done Dr Mario De Marco.
please Keep It Up And defend our jewel of an island.
Wilfred Camilleri(2 days, 2 hours ago)
Dr de Marco and his government can stop this nonsense if they really wanted to and if they really believed that the bay should be protected. If a mistake is made it is because MEPA, and by extension the government, let it happen by allowing any development at all! No mistake can be made if development is not allowed! This play with words is just an attempt to pull wool over people's eyes.
Michael Neville Cassar(2 days, 2 hours ago)
Stop the massacre of more coast line NO MORE DEVELOPMENT EXCUSES
Mike de Marco(2 days, 3 hours ago)
A glance at the above Hondoq ir-Rummien picture should tell any sane and half decent-minded human that this beauty spot must never become marred by any sort of development; but that it must be retained in its natural state for the appreciation and enjoyment of this and future generations. All that's required at Hondoq ir-Rummien is clearance of the unsightly derelict constructions.

In fighting his corner architect Bencini attempts to mislead or else is oblivious to the overwhelming numerical strength of environmental opponents and beach users (Maltese, Gozitans and foreigners) when he dismisses the source of honest and valid objections with "just because of a few people who have their private interests at heart and believe that the Qala beach is theirs and theirs alone".

Perhaps Dr. de Marco's words offer a ray of hope to those with a conscience who want to preserve the few remaining places of natural beauty within these islands by opposing the rape of Hondoq ir-Rummien. The outcome rests squarely at the door of governing politicians - will they be praised for patriotic vision or condemned for short-sighted appeasement of the well-connected but greedy few. No mistakes please!
Malcolm Borg(2 days, 3 hours ago)
Well done Dr. De Marco. Keep holding on to this stance.
p buttigieg(2 days, 3 hours ago)
@ Leslie Causon
Those that attended the hearing on Thursday could see in the foyer, plans made by university students of how Hondoq should be as a park for EVERYONE.
Anyone with a bit of common sense (and doesn't have personal interest) could see that Hondoq should be left natural, Gozo has enough empty buildings, one good example is chambray. Thousands of jobs were promised, but never came to materialize.
This project should have been stopped eight years ago, when 85% of Qala said NO and are still saying NO!!

This is the link to the times article of what the students proposed http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20091019/local/hondoq-through-the-eyes-of-students
Anthony Grech(2 days, 3 hours ago)
I have been watching this go on for some time now, and I can not take it anymore. To all the developers out there who objected so strongly and disgracefully against including foriegn residents who do not speak Maltese I say, Who exactly do you think will buy your dreadful apartments and rent your marina? You bash and insult foriegn residents, and then expect them to come here to buy your development? In one breath you say, to hell with you if you don't speak Maltese, and then in the next you think foriegners will flock here to buy. I for one have many friends who come over to Malta vacation and even a few who wish to retire here, what exactly do you think they think when they see such abuse? I am embarrassed the way we treat these people. They spend money here, pay taxes (unlike most of us!) and rarely cause any problems, yet they show some concern for our country, and how do we say thanks, by telling them to sit down and shut up. Well done. I hope that these contractors and developers are shown up and never again used by foriegn residents!
a attard(2 days, 3 hours ago)
"Everybody raised hell about the Hilton marina in St Julian's years ago. Today everyone realises the marina is the project - it gives it essence," he said when contacted."

The Hilton Marina was developed in an already disturbed area and there was nothing pristine about it and part of and existing urban foot print. This would be like any development taking place in a degenerated (as Paceveille was at that time) built up areas. Any projects within the present urban footprint would be welcome if planned well and respects peoples quality of life and enhance the living environment, Building a whole new project in a pristine area which is so RARE in Malta due to its Open space and built up areas proportionality is TOTALLY unacceptable. Where is this going to stop? Every year more and more Projects proposed in these areas which should be cherished with great love by all Maltese and Tourists. Preserve what’s left of the Maltese Islands open spaces and rehabilitate areas which are ALREADY gone under the excavaton machines. Does anyone really believe that these Islands need more development on 'Virgin' land? And more of the same when most are not operating to full capacity!!!!
leo attard(2 days, 4 hours ago)
one more thing ---- thank you Mr. de Marco for your objective insight into the matter.
leo attard(2 days, 4 hours ago)
sure Mr. Bencini, the yacht will be essential for those with the yachts, it will enhance the appearance of the village ----- but what about those poor, yachtless people who come to hondoq for inexpensive relaxation and a swim? They are not rich or powerful enough to be considered, so take the food out of the mouth of the hungry and stuff it into Pantagruel!...If Gozo needs a yacht marina then why not extend the existing one and keep the pollution in one area? But that would be too logical, eh? what happened to Eco-Gozo?..And why didn't MEPA list Hondoq in its potential yacht marinas when it carried out the survey.... ould it be that since Victor Bajada aquired the land in question he used his connections to get things moving in his favor? all gozitans know who victor bajada is and i'm sure many maltese do as well
Charles Sammut(2 days, 4 hours ago)
Mr Bencini sounds like the prototypical snake oil salesman. He is not fooling anyone with his comments. Gozitans know from experience how first the speculators buy land that seem to be abandoned like the Quarry and surrounding areas for very little money with the ultimate scope of a big payday down the road should they manage to get approval for their insidious scheme.. Their aim not to embellish Gozo but rather to expoit a situation and rake in millions once they hit the jackpot. The trouble is that MEPA cannot be trusted to do what is right.. That is protect and preserve the natural beauty of these areas. Hondoq is a picture perfect bathing and relaxation area enjoyed by locals and tourists alike and to have this Project approved would mean the loss of this unique gem so that the speculators can get their ambitions realised at the expense of the huge majority that does not want any major changes in Hondoq. Glad to see Mario Demarco coming out on the side of caution. Rural Gozo is rapidly being eroded and once Hondoq goes that route it will be lost forever with no guarantee of one extra tourist.. Real Shame.
James A. Tyrrell(2 days, 4 hours ago)
Most people who have commented on Tourism Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco's words here have done so in a positive way and have taken from those words that he is against this development. Sorry but I don't see it that way at all. When listening to a politician it's always best to concentrate on what is not being said rather than what is. From what Mario de Marco has said here it looks to me as if the decision has already been taken to go ahead with this project and he has been given the job of paving the way for such an announcement.

Can I ask Dr de Marco a very simple question please? In what way do you believe that this massive tourist complex is going to succeed when so many Gozo hotels have closed in the recent past due to under use?

I'm a tourist, one of those people Dr de Marco claims to speak for, and I'm beginning to wonder why I keep coming back to Gozo. I wouldn't holiday in Malta if I was paid to due to over development and these environmental rapists are doing the same thing to Gozo.
Frans Gauci(2 days ago)
Funny but you only seem to have a problem with one political party.
Gorg grech (2 days, 4 hours ago)

Residents of Qala let us protect our lovely clean water beach , we welcome everybody to enjoy a day out with their family by this lovely waters.

Developers where do you want us to take our children for a day out ? May be you suggest Marsalforn, Xlende, Ramla Bay , or Dwara !!!!! Let me remand you that all the Beaches are contaminated and soon Ramla Bay will be the same like all the others with that New Nadur Cemetery , in the coming future this Beach will be contaminated too. .
joseph cutajar NY(2 days, 4 hours ago)
"missing jewel in the crown " my ass ,Bencini why dont you and all the money hungry developers go and rape some other place and leave hondoq alone and yes the meeting should have been all in english so everyone can understand all the bullshit thats going on on this island that you want to destroy HANDS OFF HONDOQ .What hondoq "DESERVES" is to be cleaned up and left as is so all of us can enjoy it. People of Qala keep up the pressure and keep up this fight and dont let go , if not Hondoq will definitley be taken away from us
Victor Borg(2 days, 4 hours ago)
Back in late 2008 I was doing an analytical article about the reconciliation of the eco-Gozo policies with the continued rampant developments in Gozo. I noticed that many of the governments' policies are contradictory.

I asked Tourism Parliamentary Secretary Dr Mario De Marco several questions about eco-tourism in Gozo, including questions about the government's position and justification of a golf course and airport in Gozo.

At least some of my questions were sent to high officials at MTA (someone in MTA told me this), who prepared my answers - but then, after waiting many weeks and sending email reminders that I was still waiting, I still hadn't received the answers. I don't understand why at least some of the answers were prepared and yet still not passed on to me in the end.

The article was published in Destinations of the World News (www.dotwnews.com) a Dubai-based international tourism-trade magazine that is read by 30,000 international movers and shakers in the tourism industry, and also distributed in many airports around the world.

You can read the article here: http://www.victorborg.com/html/gozo-green-tourism.html

Victor Borg
J. J. Borg(2 days ago)
"Analytical article" eh?
Martin Frendo(2 days, 4 hours ago)
one google search and find out that tourism is taking a new persepctive - one is more into a rural way of life rather than the modern husstle bustle of super yachts ultra modern condominiums and other luxuries. yes they have it in Italy Greece and Spain. and we also have it in the maltese Islands . some comments need to review their rational perspectives. there is no need for such a marina in Gozo. yes we have to develop the islands- but come up with some fresh ideas and more of redveloping what was wrongly developed in the past. can we not come up with some proper blue prints to retain and at the same time attract our maltese identity? development doesnt necessarly mean identifying pristine natural habitats and pollute them . get our R&D think tanks on the move and let them come up with fresh ideas and perspectives. yes for development and enhancement of the Maltese Islands product . no for the destruction ( what is left) of natural habitat.
James Dimech(2 days, 4 hours ago)
how ironic: all this money which is ready to be pumped into controversial projects which harm the environment, when at the same time we have forts, beautiful old houses and other heritage which are crying out for funds in order to simply remain intact...
anthony vella(2 days, 5 hours ago)
a yacht marina for the elite and not for the majority of people from gozo!!!!!!!!
i agree with the Qala people who disagree with the yacht marina because of 2 reasons.
they will not afford to use the marina and it affects the marine life negatively because of the pollution from diesel, petrol, and raw sewage like what i see from time to time near where i am fishing in my boat. as we progress more we attract less and less tourists. who are these wise people who are saying that this developement will attract more tourists?
and why should we give our beaches to the elite whether they are local people or tourists. people should continue to object to this 'pollution' because we have enough of it. Dr Demarco, if you care for Gozo, please do not let such big projects go ahead. thank you. concerned for our environment peace
Peadar Farrell(2 days, 5 hours ago)
This is just another step along the way in the complete destruction of the Gozo landscape. Developers and their Architects develop. They will develop anywhere and everywhere that is simply what they do and they fully believe they have a God given right to do so. So readers don’t be shocked with this, it’s your job to stop them. If they fail here they will move on and try elsewhere its an never ending battle. Money is their God and it’s a very powerful weapon to have, but people power properly channelled will always beat them. So get together and fight the good fight in a sane reasoned manner. For some reason people always get diverted and talk about history or another site around the corner, concentrate on the single issue, development here would be an utter disgrace
Jesmondbonnici@onvol.net(2 days, 5 hours ago)
'You can buy a Rolls Royce or a Mini Minor.'
Even your metaphors are sickening.
lgalea(2 days, 5 hours ago)
However, Edward Bencini, the architect entrusted with drafting the project, feels the marina is a crucial element.

Of course it's a crucial element. For the contamination of the last bay in Gozo which has yet to fall for the vandalization of the speculators and environment vandalizers. What about the contamination of the bay by the yachts Edward? Or do you have a swimming pool and do not care a hoot about the rest of the population?

Can the authorities not realize that we do not ha a coast of thousands of miles and too many bays have been contaminated by yacht marinas so that the rich can park their yachts while the rest of the people cannot even go for a swim? Do the people have to carry out a revolution to get their bays back? Do the people have to carry out a revolution to get what is theirs and was taken from them for the rich to enjoy? Rise up people. That seems to be the only way to get your rights against the oppressors.
J.Aquilina(2 days, 5 hours ago)
Let me look into my my crystal ball for a second. The year is 2018, all the Maltese are crammed onto the little left public areas on our sandy beaches, while the few that can still afford enjoy the luxurious beach concessions.
The owners of the qala project complain for the lack of business due to Gozo Tourism neglect. While they castigate the government for not making enough effort to attract tourists to the now, 'Gozo' concrete jungle, they apply to MEPA for the tourism oriented project to be turned into a residential village. They are ready to sacrifice their investment in exchange for public funds to turn this village to social housing.
There is something wrong with my crystal ball as suddenly it takes me back to Mgarr Hotel and Jerma Palace, being demolished because in 2008 there was over capacity of hotel beds.
Maybe architect Bencini could lend me his crystal ball, my is surley blurring the future... or is it??

Hands off public spaces. If you have a project; seek private land and pay market price for it, otherwise go to Amalfi or Greece or Spain and build it there. Leave some breathing space for our children
R.Gauci(2 days, 5 hours ago)
While working abroad in my job driving passengers to and from an Airport , I have the opportunity to meet a lot of people from different countries especially the UK and Ireland and when I tell them that I am from Malta most of them they will tell me that they had visited our Islands.So I automatically asked them what they think about my country and most of the comments I hear from them are the following:
Positive: You have a lot of heritage and history, the old buses are nice, customer care and food in hotel was quite satisfactory. The trip to Gozo and/or Comino was really nice and we really enjoyed it there cause its different!
Negative: Too much Buildings,Prices are quite expensive, Too much crazy traffic and drivers ( not only bus drivers) very few sandy beaches.
I personally am not in favour or against this proposed project cause I didn't scrutinized it and so I don't know what effects across the board will have but what can I say from the feedback I get from the foreigners I meet is that they like Gozo because is a different place to visit so this says it all!
Edward Camilleri(2 days, 6 hours ago)
@We believe Gozo deserves a project of this nature

Why didn’t Architect Bencini fight for the preservation of the Mgarr hotel, wasn’t this hotel a 5 star overlooking the Mgarr marina? Wasn’t this suitable for Gozo?

I ask Architect Bencini why the Mgarr hotel was not sustainable but the Hondoq project is?
Edward Camilleri(2 days, 6 hours ago)
At last an important political head, Tourism Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco has spoken up for what is obviously right. Building a marina close to a bay with ‘pristine’ waters for the sake of attracting tourism is obviously counterproductive.

Comparing Gozo’s small beaches to the vastness of the Amalfi Coast is like comparing Apples & Oranges.

@Just because of a few people who have their private interests at heart and believe the Qala beach is theirs and theirs alone...

How dare Architect Bencini to say such words. First it’s not a few people who want to protect Hondoq, just refer to the Qala referendum, to the number of persons who voiced their opposition during the MEPA meeting and to the number of persons writing on various newspapers against this monstrous project.

Second, those that want to protect this bay against this project, are unlikely to protect it for their “private interest”. As far as I know, no one is occupying this beach, everyone is welcomed to this beach be it locals or foreigners, and no one is fouling the water!

lgalea(2 days, 3 hours ago)
Edward Camilleri Architects have to be in favour of their projects for at least two reasons.
1. It is their project.
2. They will become a millionaire form just one project.
John Montague(2 days, 6 hours ago)
A pro-active approach to the Island, rather that the reactive stance all governments have sadly embraced, would identify marinas and other projects, execute independent impact and other studies as appropriate, and would-be cowboy developers would be welcome to pick and choose from within an overall master-plan - am I running too fast?
The Islands' sizes allow us Maltese an incredible advantage over larger ones in term of resilience an an ability to adapt. Such a master approach, not solely contained to tourism, would augur well for us. The energy wasted in all of this, including this letter, would be better spent in better planning. Even MEPA would become quasi-redundant.
Joe Mangion(2 days, 7 hours ago)
Dr Demarco should speak out in clearer terms as his statements continue to mix people's minds. Is he against or in favour of the whole project as presented? Is he in favour or against the construction of a yacht marina? Is Dr Demarco saying that the project can go ahead without the marina? Everybody needs to know ehre Dr Demarco stands. The Qala people's decision only should be respected. Speculators and those who support them together with those whose interest is simply to make a quick buck should be marginalised. Yes, Hondoq ir Rummien should remain the people's property.
P.Portelli(2 days, 3 hours ago)
The questions you ask are all answered
Leslie Causon(2 days, 7 hours ago)
Finally - positive comments coming from Government authorities. Well said Dr Demarco. Let us throw this project out of the window once and for all and help the Qala Local Council with its plans to regenerate the area for the benefit of all.
victor pulis(2 days, 7 hours ago)
This is an incredible statement coming from none other than the architect entrusted with the drafting of the project!

"the presence of a marina village in Gozo "will give it the missing jewel in its crown".
Sure, it will undoubtedly improve on the natural beauty of the place! to be enjoyed by the elite few.

"This is all a matter of proper management. This was done in Italy, France and Greece, why not in Malta?" Mr Bencini said.
Gozo can fit easily in most cities found in these countries. If these are the arguments these people can come up with to justify their actions then their case should lose out.

A final plea to Dr De marco who appears to realise that the proposed project will ruin the area.
Please put some pressure in the cabinet in favour of Malta and Gozo. The people will be grateful when the time comes for the reckoning.

C.Portelli(2 days, 5 hours ago)
I totally agree with you.

The only "jewel in the crown" I'm seeing with the realization of this project is found in the architect (who else?) and the developers' bank account.
CHARLIE MIZZI(2 days, 4 hours ago)

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