Ramla controversy unites foes - http://www.di-ve.com/
by Chris Galea, di-ve news
VALLETTA, Malta (di-ve news) -- June 25, 2007 -- 1125CEST -- Environmental NGOs and the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) are often at loggerheads and lash out criticism at each other, but the proposed development in Ramla l-Hamra has seen both sides voicing a similar concern.
While the NGOs held a night vigil on Saturday as a prelude to the Save Gozo national protest being held on Monday evening, the FKNK held a symbolical protest on Sunday afternoon in the area close to Calypso Cave, overlooking the area being earmarked for the development.
The FKNK said that the development is nothing but irresponsible behaviour from the Government's part, as for the benefit of the few the environment will be permanently scarred.
The Federation also criticized the government for being hypocritical, as it wants to abolish hunting and trapping but then is allowing the destruction of a natural habitat that homes thousands of creatures.
Nature Trust (Malta), Friends of the Earth (Malta) and the Ramblers' Association expressed their disapproval of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority's (MEPA) decision to grant the permit for the demolishing of the Ulysses Lodge and the construction of a tourist complex, saying that the Authority has lost the opportunity to strengthen Ramla Bay's credentials as one of the loveliest and most picturesque bays in Gozo.
The NGOs pointed out that the site is outside the development zone, is classified as an area of high landscape value, lies in the close vicinity of a protected Natura 2000 site and is also close to a site of archaeological importance, adding that with the decision MEPA has shown for the umpteenth time that it is first of all a planning directorate that brushes aside environmental concerns.
Whilst expressing its support to all those who have voiced their objections against the permit granted for the proposed project, the Save Wied Garnaw Action Group said that the Government should explore ways to redress the mistake that was made 25 years ago, when the construction of the Ulysses Lodge was allowed.
The Action Group reiterated that the Government should certainly not use past mistakes as a pretext to commit an even bigger mistake in such a scenic and ecologically sensitive area.
Urging people to attend for the national protest that will be held on Monday at 1830CEST in Valletta, BICREF (Malta) emphasised that the issue is purely an environmental matter as it cautioned those attending not to take political party banners.
Last week, Din L-Art Helwa stated that the Ulysses Lodge only occupies around 32 per cent of the site to be developed as a tourist complex with 23 villas, garages and swimming pools in Ramla Bay, Gozo.
The National Trust added that the rest of the total 8,000 square metres earmarked for the development comprise undeveloped land (27 per cent), structures built without a permit (29 per cent), while the remaining 12 per cent consists of a villa and two rural dwellings.
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