Heritage organisation Din l-Art Ħelwa has objected to the proposed construction of a large new tourist complex at Ħondoq ir-Rummien bay in Qala.

The construction of new yachting facilities along stretches of undeveloped coastline would, it said, inevitably lead to the urbanisation of the natural coast through the construction of facilities to service the marinas.

Apart from the marina, the proposed development features a five-star hotel and almost 300 other units including villas, as well as shops and restaurants and 1,200 underground parking spaces.

Last year, the government identified sites in Malta and Gozo which will accommodate around 1,000 new permanent and temporary yachting berths, while stating that the development of new yacht marinas should not be accompanied by large real estate projects.

It also said that "any new yacht marinas should function in a commercially viable way without the dependency for revenue from associated property".

The Ħondoq development, on the other hand, proposed to develop an entire 'destination village' to support the marina, DLĦ said.

The NGO said that before allowing a large new complex to be built outside the development zone, the authorities should encourage the continued use or redevelopment of existing tourism sites.

The area in question lies outside the development zone and is designated as both a Rural Conservation Area and an Area of High Landscape Value, with pristine water quality.

The government had stated it would not tolerate new development in the countryside, and that Gozo should be turned into an 'eco-island', the NGO said.

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