Destroying natural beauty (letters) -
Destroying natural beauty (1)
Timmy Gambin, Sliema.

I read with interest the article under the headline Developer Defends Controversial Gozo Project (June 11). It beggars belief that following the national outcry on various developments such as Xaghra l-Hamra and Ta' Cenc we as a nation are once again faced with the destruction of one the islands' most pristine areas.

The developer's view is, by default, very subjective and one cannot really take Mario Grech's viewpoint seriously. Various NGOs, along with the local council of Xaghra and a prominent Gozitan politician have all voiced their opinion against the proposed development. Furthermore, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, set up specifically to safeguard all aspects of our heritage (both cultural and natural) highlighted the need to protect areas of natural beauty from radical development.

Mr Grech suggested that the public should have voiced their opposition to this project at the "outline stage". This brings me to the crucial point of this controversial affair. By inexplicably doing away with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the authorities robbed the general public of the chance to contribute towards what should have been a very wide ranging study (by appropriate experts) covering the potential impacts of the development on the surrounding area.

Other newspaper reports focused on the archaeological report submitted with the application and the fact that no cultural remains of significance were present in the area. It is imperative to look at the broader context and wider impact of the proposed development.

There can be little doubt that whether viewed from above (the belvedere at Calypso's cave) or below (Ramla il-Hamra), the area is one of outstanding natural beauty. The main impact that must be assessed when dealing with this project is the permanent alteration and destruction of a landscape that is unique to the Maltese Islands. The European Landscape Convention was specifically launched to "promote landscape protection, management and planning, and to organise European co-operation on landscape issues". Article 5 of this same convention deals specifically with the need to set up legislation intended to "establish and implement landscape policies aimed at landscape protection, management and planning (...and...) to establish procedures for the participation of the general public, local and regional authorities, and other parties with an interest in the definition and implementation of landscape policies".

With these clear instructions in mind I implore the authorities involved to reconsider and revoke the permit that would lead to irreparable damage to one of Gozo's most pristine and fragile areas. Such natural scenery makes Gozo the island that it is and by ruining the natural landscape we are destroying the very essence of what makes Gozo the idyllic island it is. If we don't grasp this then we as a nation have understood nothing about what needs to be done so as to save what little natural beauty is left on our islands.

Destroying natural beauty (2)
Michael Galea, Nadur.

The rule of the jungle seems to prevail in this country.

The irony is this: Having a carob tree in your plot may seriously impede your construction plans. But constructing a whole tourist complex in a sensitive area such as Ramla Bay, neighbouring the remains of a Roman villa and sand dunes unique in our islands is OK.

Of course, the question is: "OK for whom?" Some have argued that this is a better plan than the existing construction. To those I simply say: Remove what is there, which should have never been there in the first place. You don't right a wrong with another wrong!

Shame on the Mepa board members who gave the green light to such a shameful project. They should do the country a favour and resign.

Destroying natural beauty (3)
Karen Agius, Qawra.

The development at Ramla l-Hamra is against all sustainable measures that we have been lately hearing about.

Also as a stakeholder in tourism sector I would like to highlight that it will severely damage Malta's reputation. The Ministry for Tourism has engaged in expensive events to attract visitors to Gozo; we would like to see the Ministry's and the MTA's views on the matter as such construction is highly contradictory to Malta's tourism plan and policy.

I really hope that the Maltese join up together in favour if the environment.
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13 Jun 2007 by