The MEPA Board appeal hearing which was due to be held at noon today, on the proposed Hondoq ir-Rummein – Qala Creek project application, has been postponed again, as the developers failed to present submissions related to their appeal on time.
The date has now been given as October the 16th, after the developers requested an extension with respect to the presentation of their submissions.
The first appeal hearing, which was originally due to take place last February, was postponed due to a legal issue and both MEPA and the developers had to respond within two months and had been due to be heard today.
The plans, which had included the development of a large hotel, real estate units and a yacht marina, brought a public outcry. The developers then dropped the idea of the marina, limiting themselves to a ‘swimming lagoon’ for the proposed Qala Creek project.
MEPA had said that these amendments must be submitted in a new application. The original postponement was then made to allow time for both MEPA and the developers of the proposed Qala Creek Project to respond on legal issues.
Environmental NGOs Moviment Harsien Hondoq, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Ramblers Association, FOE Malta, Nature Trust, GUG, Din l-art Helwa and Wirt Ghawdex, said in October 2011, that they had studied the 2009 EIS Co-ordinated Report where the developers themselves stated “the project would struggle if it had to be developed as a stand-alone hotel.” They say that the “project is expected to double the 5-star room capacity in Gozo, despite the current demand for five-star hotel properties in Gozo being weak.”
Both the environment unit and Transport Malta had recommended that the application be turned down.
The NGOs had urged MEPA to refuse such a project and to revert the land to its original designation as a nature park.
The Qala Local Council had said previously “that it had already investigated the various aspects of creating an environment and heritage park, a project that would draw much-needed tourists to Gozo, and support existing hotels and catering establishments.”
The Labour Leader Joseph Muscat on a visit to Gozo in February, gave details of a proposal for the abandoned desalination plant at Hondoq.
The proposed project recommended that the plant should be dismantled, with recreational facilities built there to replace it for the enjoyment of the people of Qala. Clint Camilleri, who is an architect and Labour candidate for the upcoming Local Council elections, said that the facilities could include an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, public toilets, changing rooms with first aid facilities and a restaurant and cafeteria.
The Labour Leader had said that, “the buildings would be designed and constructed in such a way as to make them harmonise with the natural habitat of the bay. The design would also ensure that the highest environmental standards are met, making use of recycled material, recycled aggregate, recycled concrete, geo-thermal energy and photovoltaic panels for energy.”
The SOS Hondoq petition is available for signing by Clicking Here .