Saturday, 31 July 2010

Sat 31st July Walk - More photos

More photos, courtesy of Jeanette Debono.

Saturday 31st July Walk

Early morning walk on Saturday 31st July, led by Simon.

Some photos below, courtesy of Censu Fenech.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Church commission slams proposed Hondoq project

Church commission slams proposed Hondoq project

Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay

The Church's Environment Commission has come out strongly against the proposed development of a hotel, apartments and a yacht marina at Hondoq it-Rummien Bay, arguing that that the project is not sustainable.

The Commission said that it was difficult to justify claims that this project was for the long term benefit of the Gozitans since it would not conserve the natural beauty of the island, which should be the principal asset to draw tourism to Gozo.

"Under the pretext of the need to clean up the disused quarry and rehabilitate the site, there is a danger of land speculation without regard to what the tourism product will actually lose," the commission said.

It also said that it was a pity that the developer had been allowed to sell the land without the vendors having realised, or cared, about the damage which such a sale could cause."

(The site was once owned by a religious Order.)

The Commission in its report said that it was not enough for those who opposed the project to actually manage to stop it.

"Stopping this project will not be enough. It should actually only be the first step. There is an urgent need to be proactive in the way we care for the natural heritage in Gozo. Ways have to be found to address the neglected state of the disused quarries and the resultant environmental scars in the context of eco-Gozo," the commission said.

The regeneration of the site would not be cheap, it said, but rather than from land speculation, the funds should come from holistically planned national programmes which truly aimed at improving the quality of life of the people while also improving the tourism product.

In its report, the commission, which represents the dioceses of Malta and Gozo, said investment and development needed to be sustainable and a proper balance had to be struck with environmental protection.

The commission went over the project and said that the likely scenario was that this proposed 'Portomaso in Gozo' would spark off ribbon development, rather than remain isolated.

It also felt that the proposed development reflected social insensitivity, with the developer having ignored the fact that the majority of the people of Qala did not want the project.


Manwel Muscat (2 hours, 34 minutes ago)

What about the New Nadur Cemetery? When is the Church Environment Commission going to edvertised about this huge monster Cemetery? this project has been a big mistake from the Gozo Church it has been projected on spring water and for 8 years the Nadur farmers has pleaded the church to stop this project.
James A. Tyrrell(4 hours, 6 minutes ago)
It is obvious from the comment below from Maltese and Gozitans that the vast majority of people are against this project. Can I just say as a tourist that I am also 100% against any such development in the Hondoq area. I come to Gozo because of what nature has blessed it with not to see more concrete. Hondoq is a beautiful area, a gift from God to be enjoyed by all, not somewhere to be developed for the benefit of the few.

This area was supposed to be turned into a nature park and I agree fully with Astrid Vella and Moviment Harsien Hondoq that this is what should happen. The time has come for the Gozitan people to stand up for their rights because if they don't the financial rape of their island will continue down the same route as that taken on Malta.
Victor Borg(4 hours, 24 minutes ago)
This contribution of the Church makes an interesting point that needs further clarification for the benefit of readers. They talk that this project, if it went ahead, would be the beginning of further development. So let me reveal something that few people know: many of the big rapacious property speculators in Gozo have bought land that falls on the coast between Hondoq and Mgarr Harbour, for they believe that after Hondoq Ir-Rummien is built up, then a road will be constructed to Mgarr, and the entire area would then be next in brutal schemes of the developers.

And also a second thing I would like to add. In the action of eco-Gozo, there is one measure that says that expatriates will be given a chance to contribute to the holistic development of ecoGozo. However, in the public hearing, MEPA insisted that the hearing had to be conducted in Maltese in an attempt to muzzle the voices of the expatriates, who make up about 10% of Qala's inhabitants. It's yet another case of how government says one thing and does another when it comes to the environment.
David Pisani(5 hours, 11 minutes ago)

The alliance against the unsustainable project is getting larger and larger.

A specail thanks goes to Moviment Harsien Hondoq and the Local Council. Also a big thanks goes to all environmental, political, and social ngos which are campaigning against this unsustainable project.

J Farrugia(6 hours, 28 minutes ago)
According to local media the seller is in fact the Augustinian order, which sold the land to Gozo Prestige Holidays for just Lm150 (€350) per tumolo. If the Gozitan company, headed by lawyer turned entrepreneur Victor Bajada, is issued a permit to develop its project, the Augustinians get €23,000 for each tumolo – a total of €1.58 million. This quite a fortune which not even Friars will decline in the name of the environment.
joseph cutajar NY(7 hours, 13 minutes ago)
Everyone with common sense will eventually realize and admit that this will be one of the biggest rapes that the island of Gozo will suffer.Gozo needs places like hondoq .So much confusion for nothing .You dont need to be an expert to realize that what hondoq needs is to be turned into a national park so we and our children and generations to come will continue to enjoy hondoq to the fullest .God PLEASE throw some common sense and convince the blind as to what they gonna do to our BELOVED HONDOQ . 85% NO
Josette Buttigieg(7 hours, 17 minutes ago)
The Church Environment Commission deserves full praise for its stand on the Hondoq ir-Rummien project. Its objections to the project and its recommendations for an alternative rehabilitation of the area are nothing new. They have been echoed and reechoed a thousand times by constituted bodies, NGO's and individuals. But hearing them once more from the Church Environment Commission strenghtens the arguments which condemn the project and gives hope that they will be heeded.

Please Mepa note that another strong body has come out against the infamous project, a body that is too strong to be ignored when it speaks in the name of all Malta and Gozo. Its stand shows strongly that those who will gain from the project if there will be any will be very few but the losers will be numberless as it will be the whole country who loses. Just come and spend a day at Hondoq from early morning till late at night and see for yourseves the natural and healthy pleasures it gives to those who seek the place and love it and judge if you will then find it in your heart to condemn it to insitutionalised ruin.

Thankyou Church Environment Commission
Theresa Aquilina(7 hours, 32 minutes ago)
Does the contractor really think that Gozo needs another hotel and marina, hasn't the island been raped from it's natural beauty enough, with all the empty hotels and appartments that have been built already? When are they going to stop thinking only of money and not the enviorment, as if tourists want to see buildings and not be able to swim and snorkel in the sea because of all the deasel and dirt coming from the boats,. I have been coming to the island for years, and have seen the change over the period of years,pity but it hasn't been for the better as it has only been spoilt. Please use your sense and leave it's beauty for others to enjoy.
Astrid Vella(7 hours, 58 minutes ago)

See the University students' alternative Hondoq project which won the FAA Architecture Award at With the guidance of Moviment Harsien Hondoq, NatureTrust and the Malta Archaeological Society, the students have come out with impressive but highly feasible plans to create the national park that was meant to be created in this area. These include an upper car-park, shuttle to the beach, heritage walk, different sports activities, cycling track, a hostel for nature study students and plenty of other ideas which may be seen on
J. Borg(8 hours, 17 minutes ago)
Well done....

however the silence with respect to the infamous Nadur Cemetry polluting the natural spring is deafening!
c spiteri(8 hours, 22 minutes ago)
watt about that restaurant in imgar ix xini ? church commission u il ministru ta gozo
J.Bonnici(8 hours, 36 minutes ago)
A much appreciated position. Well done.
Charles Sammut NY USA(8 hours, 53 minutes ago)
So who of any significance is still left in favor of this misguided project? Obviously those that stand to rake in the cash after this magical Bay is destroyed for ever. Raping the natural landscape of Gozo and depriving so many of a quiet idyllic place is as low as it guess but I guess the lure of cool hard cash does turn speculators into psychopaths. They really have no shame.
Amadeo Mifsud(9 hours, 4 minutes ago)
Give a Maltese man a patch of land and he will build something on it. Give a Gozitan man a patch of land and he'll grow something on it.

This Gozitan mentality breeds respect for the land and has played a major part in preserving much of the natural heritage in Gozo. If we want to keep it up, we need to promote this "Gozitanism" in Gozo and vaccinate it against those forms of disease from across the channel that have wreaked havoc in Malta. One form of this disease leaves immovable property to deteriorate until it becomes an eyesore or even a danger, then devises a plan which not only promises to administer euthanasia on the property and take it out of its misery but even promises untold benefits to the community. More often than not, the benefits turn out to be quite elusive. For example, compare how many people the original developers promised to employ at Chambray or the Mgarr hotel, when the projects were launched, with how many work there today.
JBrownie(9 hours, 18 minutes ago)
you how the mist over Gozo,earlier this week was shrouding something ! As I said in my earlier comment Gozo is fastly moving in the path of Malta, as far as environmental discructioin is concerned
david debattista(9 hours, 37 minutes ago)
I call on Malta to give Gozo our support. Gozo is the only place were all of us can still see some
greenery and breath a little better, for all of us including our already exposed children .
Dr Demarco stop this madness we have more then enough accommodations as it is on both islands. As for the people of both islands lets fight for what little is left or lose it for ever.
Use your weapons your vote and your boycott
F Cini(9 hours, 44 minutes ago)
I am against the proposed development...however as to the comment raised by the church re land speculation, I think that selling100 tombs at circa Euro6,000 each is also land speculation! Curia please take note.
Michael Abela(9 hours, 45 minutes ago)
Is God against the rape of such a natural heritage with pots of money going to a religious order? or just divorce where those hit are condemnded to perpetual suffering? i have just been reading Christopher Hitchens biography. He says he lost his faith in Malta in the fifties where the shephered was fattened and the sheep were poor meek and hungry. The world does not change that fast it seems.
l.theuma(9 hours, 50 minutes ago)
Hats off to the Church's Environmental Commission. Bravo. You are saving the picturesque and quiet village of Qala and avoiding many hazards and prematura deaths to its residents. Thank you. Now it's the turn of the P. M. to go to parliament and avoiding "il-ħafna tidwir politiku mal-lewża", restores Ħondoq ir-Rummien to its former state of ODZ.
Dr. Gonzi, wake up, have courage and do it soon. It would save much energy which could be employed elsewhere in the nation's interest. Qala will feel obliged to you.
ECO Gozo would resume its meaning.
l fenech(9 hours, 52 minutes ago)
Issa hekk hi. Ejjew Malta halli taraw x'qed isir, jungla tal-konkos u m'hemmx hniena fl'liema toroq jinbnew.
l. theuma(10 hours, 16 minutes ago)
@ T. Camilleri
Both the Gozo diocese and the monastic order have the same superior, the Pope, who is incessantly warning about the the protection of the environment and the conservation of nature. It is scandalous to see a monastic order not taking heed of thle Pope's words.
l. theuma(10 hours, 18 minutes ago)
@ T. Camilleri
Both the Gozo diocese and the monastic order have the same superior, the Pope, who is incessantly warning about the the protection of the environment and the conservation of nature. It is scandalous to see a monastic order not taking heed of thle Pope's words.
T Camilleri(9 hours, 56 minutes ago)
l. theuma I certainly agree with you, but one has to make the distinction as they fall directly under their order superiors and not directly under the Gozo diocese.
Andrew Gatt(10 hours, 21 minutes ago)
........................but still bulldozes ahead with the Nadur Cemetary ODZ extension.

How come?

Paul Buttigieg(10 hours, 26 minutes ago)
I would like to applaud the church commission for making a stand on the Hondoq project.

The church commission is confirming what has been said along the years by the thousands of objectors, that this project is to the detriment of Gozo not the salvation as the speculators are making it out to be.

Hondoq is very important for Gozo not just for the tourism sector but for the Gozitans and Maltese alike. This is one of the few remaining open spaces where one can relax in peace with nature.

It is an area where people do not just use Hondoq as a swimming area, but for walks, fishing, barbeques, snorkelling, diving, etc...

We as objectors strongly believe that Hondoq should remain for EVERYONE.
Astrid Vella(10 hours, 32 minutes ago)
Well done to the Church Environment Commission! If I am not mistaken the sale between the Augustinian Order and the developers is still under 'konvenju' (promise of sale). In the past transfers of Church land had to be for social purposes, not speculative. Is this a reason for rescinding of the contract?

The Commission calls for objectors not to just try to stop the project but to be proactive.This has already been done; Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar together with University of Malta set up a project to study the area and provide alternative plans.Moviment Harsien Hondoq gave great help to the students while the Qala Local Council sponsored the awards. The students have come out with impressive but highly feasible plans for an upper car-park,shuttle to the,beach, heritage walk,different sports activities, cycling track, a hostel for nature study students and plenty of other ideas which may be seen on
joe gatt(7 hours, 54 minutes ago)
The students have come out with impressive but highly feasible plans for an upper car-park,shuttle to the,beach, heritage walk,different sports activities, cycling track, a hostel for nature study students and plenty of other ideas which may be seen on

Astrid, why not keep it as is, except the eyesore (quarry) which is the only site needing rehabilitating. Once they start messing around with new roads, car parks, fun fairs, ect, (money in =more money out) that would be the beggining of the end. That is still development
What`s the point might as well tarmac and concrete the place up then.

What next, Ramla L Hamra, developers are quickly running out of new territory to exploit and ruin.
T Camilleri(10 hours, 48 minutes ago)
Make a distinction from the Church as the Church in Gozo as a diocese and the monastic order that sold the land which I believe does not fall strictly under the Gozo diocese but under its own superiors.
Ernest Vella(11 hours, 9 minutes ago)
Mela fejn jaqblilna nghidu prosit lill-Knisja u fejn irridu nghidulha tindahalx...Only in Malta!!! and Gozo!!!
j muscat(11 hours, 13 minutes ago)
If the church sold the land mentioned , it should have written down the conditions in the contract that it cannot be raped and as the government want it to be!!
joe gatt(7 hours, 38 minutes ago)
it should have written down the conditions in the contract that it cannot be raped!!

Go back a couple of years, just before the last election. This development was offered to the public during the election campaign, at that time.
This project has been in the pipeline for some time, maybe there is more to this than what meets the eye!!!
Look around the state of Malta. Save your little Island from the same fate, enough harm has been done already.
Save what you still have & keep Gozo Green

Michael Grech(11 hours, 14 minutes ago)
Thumbs up to the CHurch's environment commission
J Farrugia(11 hours, 21 minutes ago)
certainly the church cannot own property left to it by benefactors. The Manumorta Act says so. so the church was right in selling this property to the highest bidder, since no hypocrit will give it the much needed funds to keep all its institutions which help the people's abondoned children in its care, the many good deeds in the social sphere that the Church has been doing for these last hundreds of years.
martin saliba(6 hours, 42 minutes ago)
The church should not have sold this property but should have given it back to the family whoses ancesrors were promised a speedy trip to heaven on his / her deathbed.
marco meli(11 hours, 23 minutes ago)
BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well done!!!! Hats off for the commission. Tough I have my doubts if MEPA will even consider the report.
Edward calleja(11 hours, 23 minutes ago)
For once well said. It is a known fact that Gozo attract tourism due to its natural beauty. Development will only do harm. Look at Marsalforn which is becoming like another Sliema.
The majority of Gozitans dont want the project, not only the people of Qala.
There is a serious lack of jobs in Gozo but job creation should not be detrimental to the environment. The ministry should put more incentive and energy to bring companies to Gozo such as IT, betting, finance, pharma etc.. (hundreds of gozitan workers are forced to live in Malta) But i am sorry to say that the Gozo ministry main aim is only resurfacing of roads.
A.Busuttil(11 hours, 39 minutes ago)
Very positive to see the church taking AT LAST a stand.
But if I am not mistaken the land was bought from the church, can some body guide us on this?
carmel mizzi nick name is ta-re (6 hours, 40 minutes ago)

Saturday, 17 July 2010



The environment NGOs Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, NatureTrust Malta and Ramblers’ Association of Malta are pleased to note that MEPA reform is picking up momentum; the MEPA Reform Act has now become law and the Environment Protection Department is being strengthened by an additional 45 staff members. Moreover an Environment Policy for the Maltese Islands is being drawn up to address Malta’s environmental concerns by bringing the policies and actions of all Government ministries in line with the proposals of the environment document. If it actually comes about, this would be a welcome change from the present situation, where different ministries routinely violate environmental guidelines.

It is therefore dismaying to realise that MEPA’s supposed “Development Control Commissions” – there’s a misnomer if ever there was one - are still issuing decisions which contravene MEPA regulations.

The MEPA Auditor has published his report on the Mosta Wied il-Qleigha case, where a beautiful meadow has been divided into four plots against MEPA policy. Two owners gained permits to build reservoirs but abusively built two bungalows instead of reservoirs -see photos above.

The ENGOs brought this case to the attention of the authorities thinking that action would be taken to return the site to its original state. Instead of which one of the bungalows was sanctioned as stables in PA 7283/07.

The Auditor comments thus: “The site history is characterised by piecemeal illegitimate accretions to developments that have been approved. The inability to abide by the requirements of permit conditions is notable in the four cases, thus contributing to unjustified land take-up. This situation is of major concern to Environment Protection Directorate, and should not be rewarded through retroactive sanctioning.”

To which the Director of Environment added “Noting that applicants have demonstrated an inability to adhere to approved specifications, the proposals are strongly objectionable in principle, and it is recommended that the cases are referred to enforcement unit for direct action, with a view to securing removal of all illegalities and restoration of the site to its original state”

MEPA’s Heritage Advisory Committee also strongly recommended that application to convert one of the illegal bungalows into stables should be refused. On what grounds therefore did the DCC grant the permit when all MEPA’s departments urged refusal?

The Auditor further discovered a disparity in the height of the soil within the plot and concluded that the drawings submitted in connection with DN 447/06 are fraudulent and recommended that this permit should be withdrawn.

Furthermore, the demolition of the original rubble walls and replacement with walls of an illegal height as well as the splitting up of the land, required a full permit application and not just a Development Notification Order hence MEPA’s acceptance of the decision was ultra vires.

The Auditor concluded: “This is a classic example of how to reward a lawbreaker in his work to create environmental damage. Throughout the processing of the submitted applications the applicant was acting in bad faith” - This raises questions on the architect’s ethics in this case. Where does the Chamber of Architects stand on such cases? -“I recommend that the DCC Division A assumes its responsibilities for approving a permit contrary to policy and acts accordingly.”

The ENGOs state that the highest authorities were au courant of all the abuse in this case as were the members of the DCC Board when they approved this permit. If the MEPA reform is to have any credibility, Government must go beyond presenting Dr. Mario Demarco as the acceptable public face on this issue.

The NGOs support the Auditor’s implication that DCC board should resign and the permit be rescinded, however board resignations are no longer enough. The NGOs maintain that responsibility for the destruction of our countryside must be taken and disciplinary measures, preferably by the Courts, are called for. The public has looked on silently for too long while our heritage is destroyed by the very officials who are employed to protect it. Malta requires no less than legality NOW.