€ 8 million in European funds for rural projects in Gozo
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More than € 8 million in European funds is to be invested in projects to clean valleys and rural development of the Gozitan countryside.
Two projects were announced today by the Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana and Parliamentary Secretary for and European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia, with an investment of € 8.3 million for valley cleaning, water management and countryside development.
The projects are co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and will be carried out by the Ministry for Gozo.
They explained that through the two projects, more than thirty kilometres of rubble walls will be restored or built – an important feature of the rural landscape and apart from the visual impact that they leave – they have great environmental importance for preventing soil erosion and serve as a habitat for various species of plants.
One of these projects will include the cleaning of twelve valleys around the island including the Xlendi Valley, Mgarr ix-Xini Valley, the Marsalforn Valley and Wied il-Kbir (Main Valley) in San Lawrenz.The Minister for Gozo said that the Ministry is working to continue to attract more European funds and thereby addressing Gozo’s needs through new projects.
She added that in addition to the work on rubble walls and valley cleaning, there will be an improvement to infrastructure, a water management programme for the preservation of water, thereby increasing water storage to help meet the needs of farmers and the agricultural sector in Gozo.
Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia explained that over time these valleys have accumulated waste and debris consequently the rainwater is not able to pass along water courses and floods the surrounding areas instead.
These valleys will now eventually be cleaned allowing the rainwater to pass through and be collected in reservoirs and dams rather than causing flooding in the surrounding areas, he said.The Parliamentary Secretary added that these interventions will be carried out in accordance with methods approved by the competent authorities to protect the flora and fauna that it typically found in these habitats.
The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary also visited three projects financed by the European Regional Development Fund – the Xewkija Mill, the Gozo Museum and the Ulysses Grove jogging and cycling trail, all of which are currently in the implementation phase.
Dr Caruana said that these projects are all progressing very well, with work started on the Gozo Museum, and the restoration of the Xewkija Mill and work on Ulysses Grove are both due to be completed at the beginning of next year.
“This has meant that the Ministry for Gozo can now undertake new projects and obtain new funds. These funds also mean the beginning of the implementation of the strategy for the regional development of Gozo, meaning that through them and the new valley project – ” there is a huge boost towards carrying out the Eco-Gozo strategy.”Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia explained that the Government is “expanding the economic engine, Gozo regional funds and others. With the help of European funds, the Government’s strategy is being implemented.”
He added that one should not look only to direct funds for Gozo but also to European funds that benefit both Gozitans and Maltese.
Photographs: MGOZ/Terry Camilleri