Din l-Art Ħelwa Għawdex (DLĦGħ), a new Gozo dedicated branch of the Din l-Art Ħelwa National Trust, was launched at the renowned Rabat Cittadella on 5 June 2021 with a mission to safeguard Gozo’s unique cultural and architectural heritage as well as its natural environment for future generations.
The founding members of DLĦGħ are a group of Gozitans together with other residents who chose to set up home in Gozo, part of a growing significant grass roots movement of people perturbed with the avalanche of construction projects and extreme over-development destroying the centuries-old charm, authenticity and attraction of Gozo’s villages and countryside, to the detriment of this and future generations.
DLĦGħ will act as a pressure group to bring about strong positive change to planning laws and enforcement and act as a watchdog, lobbying authorities and public for the protection of the landscape and rich architectural legacy of Gozo stated founding member Godfrey Swain, who added a clear statement that the new board is not an anti-development group but stands for sustainable development and n economic vision that will create long term employment and business opportunities, enhancing Gozo’s heritage and the long term prosperity of the island and its people.
Din l-Art Ħelwa National trust President Professor Alex Torpiano who presided over the launch event stated that the first immediate task for DLĦ and DLĦGħ is a strong plea to the authorities to take immediate stock of the situation and urgently, with immediate effect, put into place a series of measures to control the present pace of over-development allowing the island breathing space to re-assess the long term needs of the island of Gozo. In this respect DLĦGħ shares the concerns recently raised by the Gozo regional council together with all Gozitan mayors, straddling all political groupings, as well as key bodies representing Gozo business, tourism and university students continued Prof. Torpiano stating the three key recommendations as :
- A twelve month moratorium period be implemented on all ODZ development applications for residential and industrial use, with some exceptions for genuine agricultural applications up to 12 square metres
- A twelve-month extension of the current UCA boundaries by 250 metres to create a new buffer zone enjoying the same level of protection as UCA.
- A twelve month suspension of Annex 2 regulations for Gozo
DLĦGħ is sending out a clear warning that without immediate positive action on the three key recommendations the island of Gozo will be lost forever stated founding member and renowned international photographer and publisher Daniel Cilia who called on Government and the Planning Authority to review present planning guidelines over the next twelve months. Cilia concluded that the review should be conducted openly in a spirit of co-operation consulting with the public, mayors, NGO’s and business bodies with a view to present new guidelines that will chart a new vision for a sustainable Eco-Gozo guaranteeing the integrity of the social, architectural and environmental fabric of the island.
Gozo Regional Council President Samuel Azzopardi was a key guest speaker at the launch event and emphasized the commitment and clear recommendations submitted by the Council with the support of all the Gozitan mayors.
During the launch event DLĦGħ also noted the expanded key ares the group will be focused on in the future including twelve recommendations spanning ODZ, village Core preservation, Cultural Heritage Act and scheduled properties, local council and community involvement in planning, historic alleyways, scheduling of vistas and skylines, fiscal incentives, economic growth, global marketing, public education, Gozo Housing Needs assessment and Gozo heritage study and streetscape analysis. The event concluded with an appeal to the public to join DLĦGħ by clicking on https://dinlarthelwa.org/membership/ to join the DLĦ NGO and then select Gozo DLĦGħ regional group.