The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Din l-Art Helwa hits out at Ta’ Cenc proposal, building in ODZ land unacceptable

Monday, 29 February 2016, 12:17 Last update: about 4 years ago

President of Din l-Art Helwa Maria Grazia Cassar believes that building in Outside Development Zones is completely unacceptable, and that the Ta’ Cenc project is not the kind of project which would justify the degradation of pristine countryside.

In comments to this newsroom, Ms Cassar said: “Building development in Outside Development Zones, is unacceptable, and now all the more so when the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development 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”. The Ta’ Cenc project certainly does not qualify as such, and will signify a great loss to Maltese and Gozitans.

Her comments come in light of the Ta’ Cenc property proposal, which is said to designate 63% of land as ‘protected area,’ according to the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The proposal was put forward by managing director of Victor J Enterprises Ltd, Victor Borg. The first proposal which was put forward for the area was in 1996 by Italian company Mastrocinque on behalf of German firm Real Finanza and was substantially more intense in terms of development.

Should the Malta Environmental and Planning Authority approve the proposed development at Ta’ Cenc, the project would take up roughly 1.49 million square metres of environmentally sensitive land.

Following the public consultation meeting held at Sannat on Monday 22 February, Din l-Art Helwa was very concerned that the photomontages of the 15 villas proposed in the Ta’ Cenc project which were presented to the public, did not portray the extent of the negative visual impact of the project.

“Moreover, the access routes, landscaping and lighting were not indicated. Architect Paul Gauci, who was chairing the meeting insisted that the details of the proposed development were not available on the plans as this was still at outline development stage,” said Ms Cassar.

She also queried the importation of the architectural idiom so iconic of Puglia, Italy, and incorporating it in the design of the hotel extension.

“This area was one of the few pristine ecological sites on the Maltese Islands, and as such should be considered to be of national importance. Its status was reinforced recently as one of the Natura 2000 sites and a Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area, harbouring many rare species of flora and fauna. This, and other factors are mentioned in the Environmental Assessment Addendum, to which the public has till the end of the month to send in its comments.”

With regard to Natura 2000, Mr Gauci has concluded that “if contained and mitigated as recommended” the development is not expected to have significant long-term effects on the conservation of the scheme.

Ms Cassar added that “the superintendence of Cultural Heritage also declared that it should be valued as a repository of the country’s cultural heritage, with many important archaeological remains. It has been described in the Environmental Impact Assessment as a landscape which is irreplaceable, of outstanding scenic quality, offering views that can be enjoyed, particularly to the south and the east, and with the potential of enhancement and restoration of the landscape.”

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