Maltatoday 1st October 2006, by James Debono

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has written to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority expressing concern on the impact of the proposed Ta Cenc development on the area overlooking Xewkija, Maltatoday has learned.

The area known as Ta Gruwa is earmarked for the development of 49 villas. “This area contains an important stretch of pre-historic landscape,” acting superintendent Nathaniel Cutajar told Maltatoday.

It’s also the second consecutive blow for the project proposed by Gozitan entrepreneur Victor Borg, who owns the Ta Cenc hotel. Last month, intervening to clarify an ambiguous phrase in the Gozo and Comino Local Plan, Environment Minister George Pullicino excluded the development on the area overlooking Mgarr ix-Xini.

The Environment Impact Statement presented by the developers includes a detailed archaeological report prepared by Professor Anthony Bonanno. The EIS proposes a number of mitigation measures to safeguard the archaeological artefacts.

According to Cutajar the data contained in the EIA is “correct”, but insists it is not enough to protect each particular monument without taking account of the surrounding historical landscape. “One should evaluate the impact of development on the entire process of historical intervention recorded in the Ta Cenc landscape and not just seek to protect each particular monument in isolation,” Cutajar said.

While environmentalists have given priority to safeguarding the scenic landscape, the Superintendence also insists that the Ta Cenc landscape should also be valued as a depository of the country’s cultural heritage.