Times of Malta, 23 August 2006, by Mark Micallef –

The recently approved local plan for Gozo and Comino effectively gives the controversial Ta’ Cenc development plan the go ahead despite running contrary to the Structure Plan, according to Din L-Art Helwa.

Together with “this so-called multi-ownership tourism hotel development”, the NGO said, the local plan now also allows construction in the lower part of the plateau near Mgarr ix-Xini.

“The environmental credentials of this government are sinking fast,” the NGO said. “It seems to be gripped by a death wish affecting both Malta’s tourism industry and Malta’s countryside.”

The project would conflict with the 1992 Structure Plan that only allows tourism-related facilities in the vicinity of the existing hotel, it said.
“The House of Representatives has just approved a local plan which stands in direct contravention of the 1992 Structure Plan.”

The NGO said it has collected more than 10,000 signatures in a petition opposing the development of the area. The petition will be presented to the government.

“Public opinion is against further large-scale development in Gozo especially in an area of such outstanding scenic beauty and ecological importance.”
The application by the Ta’ Cenc developer includes the construction of a five-storey hotel, a major extension to the existing hotel, 49 bungalows overlooking Xewkija and 57 villas on the promontory overlooking Mgarr ix-Xini. A future phase of the project could include an 18-hole golf course and more unspecified development.

“It is a shocking pretence to suggest that we must sacrifice our last few areas of outstanding scenic countryside to create more tourist accommodation or villas, when tourism demand is falling and our tourism product is being directly undermined by the very development which is being proposed,” the heritage trust said.