Times of Malta, 16th October 2008 –

Alternattiva Demokratika welcomed the inclusion of the whole of Ta’ Ċenċ in the Natura 2000 classification but criticised the government’s previous resistance to such scheduling.

AD chairman Arnold Cassola said yesterday that Ta’ Ċenċ was saved from destruction thanks to EU membership, adding that “the government’s resistance to EU requests to protect Ta’ Ċenċ was blatantly obvious throughout the years”.

The Malta and Environment Planning Authority said last Friday that Natura 2000 protection had been extended to the whole of Ta’ Ċenċ, including the plateau.

Prof. Cassola said it was “well known that meetings were also held on the quiet with those opposing the project to try and persuade them to drop their objections to the unsustainable and destructive project in one of the most pristine natural areas in Gozo”.

Questions sent to the Office of the Prime Minister requesting a reaction to this statement remained unanswered at the time of writing.

Carmel Cacopardo, AD’s spokesman on sustainable development, pointed out that protection “came after years on end of protests and objections to the proposed development in the area, which is now, at long last, protected”.

John Michael Mizzi, AD Sannat councillor, appreciated the effort NGOs put into fighting development in the area, saying that “had it not been for AD and NGOs that voluntarily and in a selfless manner focused on the issue, Ta’ Ċenċ would still be under threat of so-called development”.

Along with Ta’ Ċenċ, Mepa scheduled another two vital coastal habitats hosting communities of sea birds protected by the EU Birds Directive: Wied Moqbol and Bengħajsa.