23rd August 2007

A second draft of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Ta’ Cenc development proposal was recently submitted to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa) without any information on the plans for Phase II, said Din l-Art Helwa. Phase II will cover around a quarter (approx. 350 tumoli) of the entire site of Ta’ Cenc, described as Zone 7, which was originally earmarked for either a golf course or an agro-tourism project.

Din l-Art Helwa questions why Mepa first stated that proposals for Phase II of the Ta’ Cenc development application should be included as part of the present EIA, yet subsequently requested that all details of Phase II should be removed from this EIA.

Din l-Art Helwa is of the opinion that any plans for Phase II must be included and discussed in the present EIA for Ta’ Cenc, as it is essential to view and assess the project in a holistic manner. The plans for Phase II should be submitted before the Mepa board takes any decision on this application, said the NGO.

Furthermore, the Structure Plan states that the majority of the Ta’ Cenc site is designated as a heritage park, with some development allowed but only in the vicinity of the existing hotel. The applicant is arguing that the area right across the plateau of the site near Mgarr ix-Xini, described as Zone 4, is “in the vicinity” of the hotel and that 38 residential villas can therefore be built in that area, said the NGO.

The applicant’s interpretation of the term ‘vicinity’ is incorrect, as the same interpretation could open the gates for Phase II to include an application for the building of residences in Zone 7 as well, which is closer to the hotel than Zone 4 This would clearly go against the intention of the Structure Plan, said Din l-Art Helwa.