A future Nationalist Party government would buy Gozo’s Ħondoq ir-Rummien and turn it into a public park, the party pledged on Saturday.
Addressing a press conference to mark World Environment Day, PN spokesperson for Gozo Chris Said said that, if elected into government, the PN would immediately enter into talks with the private owners of the stretch of coastline in Qala.
The party said the area it was eyeing was some 75,000 square metres in size.
Ħondoq has long been in developers’ sights with plans for a massive marina and hotel project as well as a tourist village made to the authorities in recent years.
According to Said, the PN’s proposal would see the coastal area purchased back at a “reasonable rate” after it was bought by private interests several years ago. He said that the PN would then commit to turn the area into a public park within its first legislature.
The PN MP did not specify how much the party estimated the project would cost.
“We will not shy away from ensuring that this land is given back to the people. This land is private and has long been subject to planning applications,” he said.
Area earmarked for development in local plans
The coastal area in Gozo was redesignated to “tourism and marine-related use” in the 2006 Local Plans.
The Qala local council has been lobbying to have the decision reversed, arguing that even if the plans for a tourist and residential village are refused, the applicant could just submit another application in the future.
Meanwhile, Said told reporters that the area would continue to be subject to proposed developments until action was taken to ensure it was given to the public.
Once purchased by the state, the land would be rehabilitated, including disused quarry that Said described as an “eyesore”.
“Then we will finally have an national park on Gozo,” he said.
He also slammed the government for having not developed any public parks in Gozo since 2013.
Robert Cutajar, the PN spokesman for the environment, said the PN was working on a number of green proposals to put to the public.
He said the PN will soon be tabling a private members bill to stop government entities from carrying out works without permits.
Cutajar said this was being done under the guise of the works being an emergency, but was often having a negative impact on the environment.
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