The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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Gozo eNGOs and Din L-Art Helwa prepare for fight against Ggantija permit

Tuesday, 21 November 2023, 08:02 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Coalition for Gozo and Din L-Art Helwa are preparing to fight for the revocation of a permit awarded recently for construction near the world-famous Ggantija Temples as soon as the decision is published, warning that the development poses a very serious threat to the integrity of the temple complex and its buffer zone and fully justifying the public outcry.

The Coalition for Gozo is a dedicated advocate for environmental conservation in Gozo, made up of Din L-Art Ħelwa GħawdexGħawdix and Wirt Għawdex working with Din L-Art Helwa, Malta’s National Trust.

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A few weeks ago, the Planning Authority approved an application that will see 22 apartments and 20 garages built on the edge of the Xagħra Development Zone, ignoring a request by UNESCO.

The Ġgantija Temples complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Malta’s most cherished historical landmarks. The surrounding buffer zone established by UNESCO is essential for safeguarding their cultural and environmental significance, serving as a protective measure against any development that could compromise the authenticity and historical value of the temples. The Ggantija Temples complex are a legacy of past civilisations vitally important not just to Gozitans and to Maltese but to the Global Village that our country forms part of.  Sites of such global importance are not up for sale, are not the domain of local developers, governmental authorities and politicians but a gift to the world and it is our duty to protect such sites for this and future generations. There is no room for small minded, petty and outrageously controversial thinking and decisions from people who should know better.

Any such development as envisaged under PA/00570/21 which disrupt the visual setting of the temples, causes environmental disturbances, and allows for the potential degradation of the temples' surroundings should be blocked without reserve. Din L-Art Helwa and the Coalition for Gozo will be filing a request for the revocation of this permit based on flaws in the approval procedure, errors and incorrect information on which basis the permit was granted.

The group also warned that allowing this construction would set a dangerous precedent for other sites being prepared for devastating new development in the vicinity of Ggantija Temples and other sites of key historical and cultural importance in Malta and Gozo.

They urge the public to join its efforts against PA/00570/21, and to advocate for responsible and sustainable development that respects the buffer zone and the unique cultural and environmental heritage it seeks to protect.

Finally the Group noted, with satisfaction and some relief, the recent strong statements by Heritage Malta and the revised opinion from the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage to the Planning Authority and calls on the Government and the Planning Authority to do its duty to the nation and the civilized world that we form part of and stop the environmental vandalism that is being wrought upon our nation.

Another NGO, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, is raising funds to challenge the decision.
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