AD vows to fight Gozo development -
Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Harry Vassallo said yesterday the issue of a permit for the construction of tens of villas on the clay slopes below Calypso's Cave was an environmental and planning blasphemy.

Dr Vassallo was speaking at a protest meeting in Ramla l-Hamra, addressing a crowd of over 200 Gozitans, Maltese and ex-pats.

Dr Vassallo supported statements by Ramblers Association president Lino Bugeja who addressed the meeting and said that if the permit was allowed to proceed, it was hard to imagine what other planning outrage could be prevented.

"If anyone imagined that the issue of the permit was the end of the affair, he was seriously mistaken.

"This is the beginning of the beginning. As we did for the Ta' Cenc and Xaghra l-Hamra, we are committed to support the residents in their fight for their basic human rights. "As registered objectors, we will appeal before the Mepa Appeals Board, we will take the matter to our domestic courts and before every enforcement agency in the EU.

"We are already in touch with DG Environment which is fully aware of the situation" Dr Vassallo said.

He said this was another case where Mepa granted a permit when it should have dismissed the application in the first place.

It must be remembered, he added, that enforcement through the demolition of illegal structures was held in abeyance for decades.

This is an insolent slap in the face of anyone who depends on the rule of law to protect him or her from the powerful and the unscrupulous.

Dr Vassallo added that "this insolence shows people in power do not recognise the profound political change taking place in the country.

"At every major violation, we witness the coming together of local councils with NGOs, civil society and Church organisations. Alliances are being formed regardless of traditional political party alliances."

Nobody in the country would imagine that any such development application would have been filed or would have been countenanced by the authorities, let alone issued with a permit, if the Minister of the Environment was a Green, Dr Vassallo said.

Arnold Cassola said that during the meeting between the Maltese Greens and Green Italian Minister Alfonso Pecoararo Scanio yesterday, a suggestion was made that Gozo could best exploit its resources providing employment for all Gozitans. This can be achieved if it followed the examples of some Italian islands and became what is technically known as an "ecological island".

AD's proposition to have Gozo set itself a target to provide cheaper and cleaner energy and to utilise the 35,000 vacant properties for hospitality purposes would create a new and long-lasting attraction to visitors and new jobs for Gozitans in Gozo.

The Xaghra local council is unanimously opposing the development.

AD secretary general Victor Galea said that even though the Xaghra local council is made up of Nationalist and Labour councillors, they set an example by putting the national interest before partisan pique.

Mr Galea said that an appeal would be filed against the issue of the permit and that the legal battle would be fought in every available forum by every legitimate means.

Those who wish to participate can donate money to the Ramla fund that will be reserved specifically for the purpose, Mr Galea said.
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11 Jun 2007 by