Wednesday, 21st July 2010 - 11:19CET
Church commission slams proposed Hondoq project
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.