Hondoq ir-Rummien belongs to the people not to developers
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Readers Letter – “Decisions are being made at the moment regarding the future of the Hondoq project application and I feel it’s important that this issue is kept in the public eye in order to ensure that things don’t happen behind the backs of the people as they have done in the past. I’m referring of course to events which occurred back in 2002.
“At this time the entire area which the developers have earmarked for the marina project belonged to the Government. It had been expropriated along with the reverse osmosis plant and the land it stands on.
“Then for some reason the land in question was returned to the owner by President Guido de Marco. Shortly after it was returned MEPA received an application to build a yacht marina, hotel and 283 villas, flats and bungalows. Coincidence? Personally I don’t believe in coincidences and that suspicion is given weight by the fact that this area which up until this point had been Outside Development Zone (ODZ) was suddenly changed to a tourist and marine related activities area.
“It should also be remembered that not all the land was returned as the reverse osmosis plant and the land it stands on still belongs to the Government. Is this why the developers earmarked this area for a car park, in case there was some problem with it being turned over and so as not to hold up the main project?
“At the time this application was sent to MEPA the local Qala Council had already applied to turn the area into a National park so MEPA were well aware that the local Council had plans for the area. We also need to remember that the results of a referendum carried out in 2002 were that 85% of people were against the marina project.
“We now need to look at December 2009 when Qala Local Council, Moviment Harsien Hondoq (MHH) and Flimkien ghal Ambjent (FAA) organised a competition for University student architects to show what they would do to the area.
“They decided that the old reverse osmosis plant should be turned into a youth hostel and submitted plans for the rest of the area which were absolutely stunning. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L_aXqa5eJU&feature=related
“We now come to the present where we recently learned that the MEPA Environment Protection Directorate (EPD) had recommended refusal of the Hondoq project application, a decision that was welcomed by all concerned parties. In order to counter this objection the developers submitted a fresh application leaving out the marina and substituting it with a ‘swimming lagoon.’ A swimming lagoon by the way in case you are wondering is a marina before the boats are allowed in! We have to remember here that the developers themselves stated that the whole project would either stand or fall on the marina being part of it, so what has changed?
“Now as someone familiar with the area I can’t imagine what it would be like with an extra 2000 vehicles a day trying to get through the village. That is the estimated number which would be generated once this development was finished. In case you are wondering that’s an extra 83 vehicles per hour every hour of every day on top of the present traffic.
“We also have to consider the up to two years of heavy vehicle traffic during the construction phase bringing with it high dust and vehicle fume levels.
“With regard to the so called impartial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA ) it turned out to read like an advert for the areas development! Hondoq ir-Rummien belongs to the people of Qala in particular, the people of Malta in general and to all the tourists who flock there every year to enjoy it’s beautiful waters.
“It does not belong to money grabbing developers whose only interest is in lining their pockets. To that end the people have a choice, they can fight for what they know is right, or they can roll over and show their belly. The choice is now over to them.”
James A. Tyrrell,