Press Release – 2nd February 2016

The development of ODZ land at Ta’ Cenc will continue the relentless destruction of the countryside, says Din l-Art Helwa

Din l-Art Helwa is extremely concerned by the renewed proposal to build 15 villas outside the development zones, on the plateau near Mgarr ix-Xini at Ta’ Cenc in Gozo. This proposal is completely unacceptable and should be thrown out by the Planning Authority. It goes directly against all current planning policies which relate to this area.

The Local Plan limits development on the plateau near Mgarr ix-Xini to the existing buildings and does not allow further development in this area. This was specifically clarified in a letter to the MEPA Board in 2006, by then government minister George Pullicino who had approved the Local Plans. This letter was endorsed by then prime minister Lawrence Gonzi.

The Rural Policy and Design Guidance, approved by this government in 2014, does not contemplate the development of new residences outside the development zones.

Finally, the new Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) of 2015, which has now replaced the Structure Plan, states that that the location of new residences should be guided within urban areas, and that rural areas must not be “exploited by uses which are not legitimate or necessary”.

The government has already ignored its own SPED with the transfer of a large portion of land at Zonqor at Marsascala for the development of an educational institute, on land identified by the Planning Authority against its own policies. Granting permission to build private villas in an ODZ area near Mgarr ix-Xini at Ta’ Cenc, would continue the relentless destruction of the countryside.

The SPED clearly states that further land take-up in rural areas should be considered as a last resort and only “where it is essential for the achievement of sustainable development.” There is absolutely nothing sustainable about building more ODZ villas on the Ta’ Cenc peninsula.

In 2006 a petition raised by Din l-Art Helwa against proposed development at Ta’ Cenc was signed by 10,000 persons and tabled in Parliament by two MPS, one from the government side and one from the Opposition, both of whom also signed the petition.

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