Press Release – 26 September 2008

After viewing the latest proposals for the extension of the existing hotel at Ta’ Cenc, Gozo, the NGOs Din l-Art Helwa and Nature Trust (Malta) are of the opinion that the present proposal is a significant improvement on the original plans.

Din l-Art Helwa and Nature Trust are conscious that the developer has made a significant effort to conform to the provisions of the Structure Plan. However the NGos still have some concerns.

One of these is the area near Mgarr ix-Xini that, has been earmarked for villas by the developer, and which has now been left out of the plans to be considered at a later stage, as this part of the proposal is under appeal. DLH and NTM believe that this area cannot be left out as plans for the Ta’ Cenc site should be viewed holistically. Another issue of concern is the bio fuels being proposed on site.

Another outstanding issue is the proposed hotel extension to the south of the existing hotel, which encroaches on the bird sanctuary. DLH and NTM are concerned that this could set a dangerous precedent for development proposals in other protected areas.

The management of the heritage park should be in line with EU Directives for protected areas, with free access to the public, said the NGOs. Once any permit is issued, it must be final with no possibility for further applications for extensions.

The NGOs also call on the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to schedule the area at Ta’ Cenc which has been recommended for scheduling by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage. This area lies behind the grounds of the existing Ta’ Cenc hotel and around the Tal-Gruwa ridge which overlooks Xewkija, and contains archaeological remains of national importance such as dolmens and their associated features. The site should be also be declared by the authorities as a Natura 2000 site since it harbours all credentials for a natura 2000 site