17 November 2007 –

In a joint statement, the non-governmental organisations Din l-Art Helwa, the Gaia Foundation, Birdlife Malta, Nature Trust, the Ramblers Association and Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, together welcomed the report in the Sunday Times of Malta of 11th November, which stated that the proposed development at Ta’ Cenc in Gozo is to be recommended for refusal by the Planning Directorate of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. The NGOs strongly urged the Mepa Board to follow this recommendation when it meets in around six weeks time, to secure the protection of the area through a refusal of the application by the Board.

The proposed application PA 05277/96 goes against the Structure Plan and would seriously endanger the natural heritage of the area, part of which is protected as a bird sanctuary, said the NGOs, who also recommended that the adjacent Natura 2000 site should be extended to encompass all the extent of the cliffs and the valley of Mgarr ix-Xini as one continuous protected area. Natura 2000 is a European wide ecological network that safeguards the most important natural habitats in the EU.Part of the site also contains significant archaeological remains and has been recommended for scheduling by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, said the NGOs.

The Ta’ Cenc area lies outside the development zone. The NGOs demanded that the Mepa Board adheres to the Structure Plan, which only permits some development in the vicinity of the existing hotel at Ta’ Cenc.