MEPA Board rejects appeal for proposed Hondoq Project
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The MEPA Appeal Tribunal this morning rejected an appeal for the proposed Hondoq ir-Rummein – Qala Creek project application.
The plans, put forward by Gozo Prestige 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.
The Appeals Board rejected the appeal for amendments to the project not to be considered as a new application. Therefore the developers would have to re-apply again should they want to continue with the proposal.
MEPA said in a statement, “The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) today, ruled in MEPA’s favour, an appeal which had been submitted by the applicant of the Hondoq ir-Rummien project associated with the processing of the related planning application.
“The appeal, which was made by the applicant in December 2011, related to a letter the applicant received from the directorate informing them that, the then, newly submitted plans associated with the project, constituted a material change and so altered the nature of the existing application.
“These changes merited that a new application is submitted for the Authority’s consideration. The Authority also informed the applicant that the processing of the existing application had been nearly finalised, with the EIA report having already been published.
“The Authority, in the appeal, reiterated that the applicant could not appeal at this stage from correspondence from the Authority to the applicant and could only appeal after a final decision by the MEPA Board. This was upheld by the Tribunal.”
It is expected that MEPA will, in the coming weeks, decide whether to grant or refuse the permit.
Previously Environmental NGOs in a joint statement had called on the MEPA Board to reject the appeal for the Hondoq proposal, saying “85% of Qala’s residents voted against the project, over 4400 people signed a petition against it.” The NGO’s Moviment Harsien Hondoq, FAA, Nature Trust, Ramblers, Friends of the Earth and, Din L-art Helwa also said that they “are against any sort of development at Hondoq.”
The NGOs said that “in the first project proposal, the developers had placed great emphasis on the fact that the marina was to be the unique attraction that would attract people to stay in the hotel and make it viable, in what is a weak market for 5 star hotels. They also said that 200 apartments were necessary to make the project viable.
The application was also opposed by the Qala Local Council and The Church’s Environment Commission, among others.