The issue in Ta’ Cenc has been going on for nearly a decade. back in 2007 the Ramblers’ association Malta issued the following press release:
Ramblers urge refusal at Ta Cenc
26th August 2007
The Ramblers Association of Malta is calling for a refusal of the development application which threatens to destroy more open spaces at Ta Cenc. The Association is making a final plea for common sense to overrule speculative greed. The Association argues that with last year?s extension of the development zones, projects of such magnitude outside development zones should simply not be entertained. Extending the construction of villas on the unbuilt plateau outside the designated development zone would be a shameful collapse of all the principles which environment NGOs have fought for to preserve such areas for posterity.
The proponents of the project are proposing the development of a new hotel, 38 villas at the picturesque Mgarr ix-Xini, and 33 bungalows over Ta? Cenc.
Ramblers Secretary Alex Vella said ?We are not against development within the footprint of the existing hotel limits and their immediate vicinity, as long as they are within the bounds of reason. But the proposal of the developer is disproportionate, not only to the Ta? Cenc area but to the the whole of Gozo. Today?s improved awareness of the importance of the natural environment and of open spaces simply make the proposal unacceptable?
RAM calls on the government to declare the whole of the green area at Ta Cenc as protected, not just a few meters bordering the sea-cliffs. Protection as originally proposed to the EU, and later withdrawn, should come into force without delay.
RAM also considers the omission from the EIA of a considerable area known as “Zone 7”, the possible location of a future golf course to boost the first phase of rural urbanisation, as unacceptable. The two are obviously linked both geographically and economically, therefore they must be looked at holistically rather than in isolation. The decision on the present application should not be taken without viewing Phase I and Phase II as a whole since one would depend on the other but the cart is being put before the horse in an attempt to run it through MEPA in piecemeal fashion.
Ramblers Association of Malta is calling for a full investigation of any meetings which led to agreements between the developers and MEPA officials between 2002 and 2004. Particular attention should be given to determining whether alleged attempts to cover up or discourage access to letters documenting the outcome of the negotiations were not unintentional. The Association is calling on government to reawaken an earlier proposal to list Ta Cenc as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as befits this natural gem.
Public access to the area enjoyed by generations and the right to roam must be protected for this rich natural and archeological site. RAM regrettably notes that the developers on more than one occasion in the past refused entry or accosted members of the public from enjoying their right to enjoyment of the countryside in the area.
The secretary concluded: ?Protecting a few meters along the cliff edge does not make sense and will only prolong the present uncertain state of affairs, which is detrimental both to developer and to civil society. It is high time that the Authorities put an end to the unhealthy debate, declare to the developer the undisputed limitations of his rights according to established legislation, and protect civil society from further harassment in the enjoyment of their rights to roam.?
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