Mepa urged to restore Hondoq status, refuse development
Mepa is being urged to restore the designation of Hondoq ir-Rummien in Gozo to what it was before 2006, when changes were made to allow tourist development.
Moviment Ħarsien Ħondoq in a letter to the authority in view of its revision of local plans, said that the area was re-designated for tourism and marine related uses in 2006, without public consultation. Mepa's Audit Office later admitted that this lack of consultation should not have happened, considering the 'substantial' nature of the changes.
Previously, the policy agreed upon by Mepa and the Qala Local Council stated that: 'The preferred use is to reclaim the area either for agricultural use or afforestation.'
"Had the due consultation process been followed, it's highly unlikely such changes would have been accepted," the pressure group said.
It noted that the area lies between two proposed Areas of Ecological Importance, and is classified as an Area of High Landscape Sensitivity (AHLS), and a Category A Valley.
"As an ODZ, Hondoq should have been protected by the policy which states that there is 'a blanket prohibition of any form of urbanisation outside areas specifically designated for urban uses'," the movement added.
It urged the Mepa Board to uphold the recommendation of the authority's own Environment Protection Directorate and refuse to grant a permit for the development of Hondoq as a real estate/marina complex.
The board was also urged to return Hondoq to its previous ODZ status as per the Local Plan agreed between Mepa and Qala Local Council.