Developer defends controversial Gozo project -
The developer of a controversial tourist complex in Gozo's Ramla l-Hamra has staunchly defended the project, amid growing protests by environmentalists.

Scores of people braved the heat yesterday to turn up near the Calypso Cave area for a protest organised by Alternattiva Demokratika.

Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar has called for the permit to the project to be annulled arguing that it was issued on the basis of misleading information. FAA said the outline permit was granted on grounds that the new project will occupy the same footprint as the old structures when, in fact, it is over twice as large.

Mario Grech, director of Ulysees Lodge Company, said the developed was mired in false accusations and inaccuracies.

The development permit refers to the demolition of the existing entertainment complex and its reconstruction, which will have the same footprint as the area presently disturbed, he said.

It consists of 23 residential units to be used for tourist purposes, ancillary parking spaces underground, and the restoration of an old farmhouse to be used for the administration of the tourist facility.

Mr Grech said that geo-environmental impact assessment, slope and stability analysis, geo-technical study of foundations, archaeological heritage report, and ecological appraisal were carried out as part of a detailed project description statement.

Contrary to claims, the project does not include 40 units, plus a commercial tourist centre, apartments and local shops. In some areas, the new building will actually be two storeys lower than the existing one, he said.

The existing site is characterised by massive buildings and structures that do not respect the site's topographical features and characteristics, Mr Grech said.

"Our design was guided by the principle that the buildings do not visually dominate the site as they do at the moment," he explained.

The area will be landscaped throughout, not solely spaces between buildings, but also within the courtyards and on the roofs. The architectural design of the individual buildings includes materials like stone and rubble walls that, by their very nature, do not dominate surroundings.

Mr Grech said the provision of extensive soft landscaped areas within the site and a number of underground rainwater reservoirs will result in much less surface water run off to the surrounding area beyond the site.

An underground modern sewerage system has been integrated to ensure that all waste matter is safely transported to the public sewer system.

The design also limits surface vehicular access to the topmost part of the site, such that there will be no roads or vehicle parking visible within the site.

Works will follow a construction management plan formulated to ensure that no spill-over effects occur and that the temporary visual impact of the construction site is kept to a minimum. For example, the landscaping surrounding the site will be planted immediately, using mature trees to contribute to the screening of the site.

"If anything, the protests should have been made at outline stage, and not now," Mr Grech said about the project, which is expected to be completed within three years.
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11 Jun 2007 by