Times of Malta, 13th May 2007 – The government has decided not to go ahead with the planned golf course at ix-Xaghra l-Hamra and will instead build a nature and history park which will be five times the size of Valletta, the Prime Minister announced yesterday. It was his second major ‘green’ decision in days, having on Thursday decided to abruptly stop bird hunting in the spring after protected birds were shot down.
The golf course proposal had drawn a chorus of protests on environmental grounds, and Dr Gonzi told a press conference at the Auberge de Castile yesterday that the government’s decision confirmed its declaration that the golf course would not be built at any cost, despite the need for a golf course to attract golf-playing tourists.
He said the project at ix-Xaghra l-Hamra would be ditched following expert reports which showed that a substantial amount of development would be required. The nature and history park, which will be built instead, will be the first of its type in Malta. It will be run by Din l-Art Helwa and Nature Trust, whose representatives yesterday signed a letter of intent.
A management plan for the park to regulate activities that may be carried out there is due for completion in three months. Existing farmland will continue to be used as such and farmers who had their rent (qbiela) suspended will get it back.
Environment Minister George Pullicino said that the heritage park would cover 2.6 squared kilometres from ir-Ramla tal-Mixquqa (Golden Bay) to il-Prajjiet (Anchor Bay). The area includes a wide variety of endemic and threated species and habitats, including cliff and maritime habitats with the endemic Maltese Rock-Centaury, clay slopes with the rare Fagonia, garigue communities based on Mediterranean thyme and various orchids and rock pools, with many species, most of which are endemic or of restricted Mediterranean distribution.