6th June 2007

Din l-Art Helwa expresses its strong disapproval of today’s decision taken by the MEPA board to grant a permit for the construction of a large tourist complex in Ramla Bay, Xaghra, Gozo. The existing buildings known as ‘Ulysses Lodge’ are to be demolished and replaced with a new set of self-catering units, garages and swimming pools, which will extend beyond the existing developed area.

Ramla Bay is one of the loveliest and most picturesque bays in Gozo, says Din l-Art Helwa. This decision to increase the commercial activity in this sensitive area is bound to negatively effect the unspoilt character of the surroundings. The site is outside the development zone. It is classified as an area of high landscape value and lies in the close vicinity of a protected Natura 2000 site.

The Structure Plan does not envisage any new development in this area. The fact that part of the site is already disturbed does not justify further development, continued the NGO. The area is also close to a site of archaeological importance. However the recommendations of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage were ignored by the MEPA Chairman, who instead gave priority to an archaeological report commissioned by the developer.

To justify the extension of the development boundaries carried out in 2006, the Minister for the Environment had stated that no further development would be allowed outside the boundaries. This permit flies in the face of this undertaking and bodes very badly for the protection of the remaining countryside.