Times of Malta, 30th June 2008

BirdLife Malta yesterday slammed developer Victor Borg for hiding his new plans for the development of the ecologically sensitive Ta’ Ċenċ area from the Maltese public.

Mr Borg, together with officials from Mepa, met the European Commission last May following a request made by Mr Borg’s company to discuss fresh plans for Ta’ Ċenċ.

However, when asked about the meeting by The Sunday Times, Mr Borg refused to explain what was discussed or give any insight into the new plans, BirdLife noted. Fresh development plans for the ecologically sensitive area were handed to EU officials for evaluation during the recent meeting in Brussels.

Mr Borg’s proposed project includes the development of villas and farmhouses as well as the creation of a heritage park.

“Whilst we believe that Mr Borg has every right to consult third parties, including the Commission, about his development plans for Ta’ Ċenċ, refusing to share his plans with the Maltese public is a clear indication that he intends to proceed with his plans for development in spite of public opposition.

“Because of his initial failure to forge ahead with his monstrous development in this ecologically sensitive area, Mr Borg’s new strategy is to keep his movements hidden from the public so that he can later present a fait accompli,” claimed Tolga Temuge, executive director of BirdLife Malta.

He recalled that in a letter sent to the director of Mepa on November 20, 2007, the developer had revealed his intention to amalgamate the existing hotel extension with a new proposed hotel in a way that makes them look as one.

Mr Temuge said the area where Mr Borg wants to build a new hotel, under the pretext of an extension, is subject to a pending infringement procedure opened against Malta by the European Commission due to insufficient Special Protection Area designation. BirdLife Malta, who revealed Mr Borg’s letter to Mepa’s director last year, had warned that no development should even be considered until the infringement procedure is completed and the outcome finalised.

Ta’ Ċenċ was designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for its internationally important breeding colonies of seabirds including the Yelkouan Shearwater, the largest breeding colony of Cory’s Shearwater and the only colony of European Storm-petrels outside Filfla in the Maltese islands.

The Mepa case officer’s report, which was sent to the developer on November 9, last year drew attention to these facts and stated that the proposed development is unacceptable in terms of EU regulations as it exposes such species to adverse impacts related to light and noise pollution and therefore the protection of these species would be at risk.