AD condemns MEPA strategy -
The authorities are determined to ruin the picturesque area of Ramla l-Hamra in Gozo, according to Alternattiva Demokrattika, since the Malta Environment and Planning Authority approved two major developments in the space of a week.

The first is the highly controversial development of 23 tourist villas for a new complex, while the second relates to a large Church cemetery on the Nadur side of Gozo's largest sandy bay.

AD said: "A proposal such as this one for the cemetery was not properly planned and is not justified - since in the planning process no party involved ever managed to justify why, of all places, this cemetery has to be built in the Ramla l-Hamra area."

AD chairman Harry Vassallo said the Church in Gozo was never asked to present a Project Description Statement or an Environment Impact Assessment - unlike the procedure adopted for the Addolorata cemetery.

"It is not enough for the MEPA board to ask the Church to commission a study when the outline permit was already issued. If the law states that an EIA has to be carried out, there should be no exception to this rule. One will wait and see how the Gozo Curia and MEPs will reply when notified that they have infringed the European Habitat Directive," he said.

Dr Vassallo also said the farmers' co-operative, whose members neighboured the proposed cemetery, were concerned that the 2,000 planned graves would contaminate the water in the vicinity.

"We cannot understand how no one consulted with these farmers who cultivate 5,000 orange and lemon trees. The fact that the Gozo Curia has to this date not set up an Environment Commission, like the one set up in Malta, puts doubt over the environmental commitment that AD expects...

"The persistence by developers to destroy the trees, flora and fauna in this picturesque area and the building of a big Church that will be seen from kilometres away, is a proof of this," he said.

Dr Vassallo called on the Gozo Curia to scrap the development, even though MEPA has issued a permit and to prevent the need for farmers to seek legal redress against the Church.

"A solution must be found so that the needs of the Nadur residents are met without losing any part of their town's natural heritage. AD has repeatedly stated that a cemetery should not become a cause for conflict in Nadur, but on the contrary should be the result of co-operation and consensus," Dr Vassallo said.
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17 Jun 2007 by